Lagavulin is a distillery on the island of Islay and like the majority of distilleries on the island, Lagavulin produces smoky and complex whiskies. It is renowned within whisky circles as being one of the best examples of a smoky whisky. The distillery is located on the south coast of Islay, close to the town of Port Ellen, and was established in 1816. It is currently owned by drinks giant Diageo and is one of their smaller capacity distilleries, producing around two million litres of whisky per year. Lagavulin is released as a limited core range - a 12 years old at cask strength, a 16 years old and this Distiller's Edition. By doing this, they concentrate on what they do well and maintain their very high standards. the 16 years old is the Islay representative in Diageo's 'Classic Malts' series and is the most popular bottling from the distillery. It is the third highest selling smoky malt whisky behind the Laphroaig 10 years old and Bowmore 12 years old. This 'Distiller's Edition' is also released at 16 years of age but for the last two years it is matured in a Pedro Ximinez sherry cask.
The colour is a dark, golden amber and the nose is a complex mix of sweetness coming from the sherry influence and the peat. Pedro Ximinez is a very sweet, dark and thick sherry and this means that it is not overpowered by the intense, pungent smokiness of the Lagavulin spirit. On the palate this is liquid gold. The earthy and bonfire smoke hits you first but then the rich, sweet dried fruits (imagine raisins and candied citrus peel) come through. There is further sweetness that reminded me of molasses or treacle and also a slightly salty note (think of seaweed). The finish is long, rich, smoky and gorgeous with a slight dryness and bitterness (imagine iodine, a classic south Islay whisky characteristic). This is a great whisky and is richer and sweeter than the regular 16 years old bottling. It would be a very good after dinner whisky and would go well with a strong or blue cheese. The price is higher also, as Pedro Ximinez casks are very expensive to buy and as it is a limited release. It is available from specialist retailers only and should cost between £45-55.