Review #17: Lagavulin 2018 Feis

The story: As mentioned in the Lagavulin 16 review, we have been doing side-by-side comparisons of the Lagavulin bottlings we have. It’s been incredibly fun and educational, and the 16 serves as an excellent reference point.

The end rankings were as follows:

  1. Exclusive Malts Isle of Islay
  2. Lagavulin 18 (2018 Feis)
  3. Lagavulin 16
  4. Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition 2017

Two bottles of Whisky with two glasses in between and a bar behind.
Lagavulin Feis 18 (left) and Lagavulin 16 (right). Lighter color on the 18 with less oil but more smoke – and more complex.

Lagavulin 2018 Feis Review
  • Score 9
    9/10

Tasting Notes

Nose: I have now tasted it under several conditions. If I haven’t had any whisky, it comes off as musty tea leaves, Chinese medicine store, meat, and seaweed. But after you get used to the smoke (or you have been drinking) it becomes a lot sweeter – and the lemon and vanilla meringe come through, with some anise and raisins.

Palate: It is surprisingly light at first (after resting for a few minutes), with vanilla and lemon meringue, before an envelope of smoke, soy sauce, and wet rock quickly surrounds the tongue. There’s a smoked and nutty (walnut) aftertaste with a whiff of herbal caramel and pepper. Tried it once with water and I just wrote down “vanilla and sweet” but I was also fairly… into my whisky drinking…

I’ll be honest – at first I liked the Lagavulin 16 better because it’s oilier and sweeter. But this is far more smokier and more complex, with a very long and dry finish. It’s really a dram you can spend hours with and keep writing down pages (and I mean it!) of tasting notes.

Overview

TLDR: “Smoky Umami Lemon Delight.” Overview: Complex smoke that turns more lemon meringue as you sip. Makes the Lagavulin 16 taste almost saccharine in comparison.

Bought for: ~£130/bottle at the distillery

Overall
9/10
9/10

Additional Information

  • 18 years
  • Aged in refill American oak hogsheads, rejuvenated American oak hogsheads, and ex-Bodega European oak butts
  • ABV 53.9%
  • 6000 bottles produced

About Lagavulin and 2018 Feis:

  • We visited the distillery! Our recap of the distillery, where we did the tasting and nosing class, is here.
  • This bottling is exclusively made for the 2018 Feis festival, which is the major festival on the Islay island and attended by thousands of participants. The distilleries go all-out, as you can see by this 2018 Feis program by Lagavulin, which includes classes led by the Master distiller Iain McArthur and tastings of their 25 year old
  • Most distilleries release exclusive bottlings just for Feis
  • Well-reviewed on other sites I looked at (note: only looked at these after writing my review because I don’t like to bias my reviews!)

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