Besides the world of cocktails there are of course some spirits that are definitely too good and therefore unsuitable for the use in a mixed drink. Many purists – certainly rightly so – state that Single Malt Whiskies are among these spirits. Basically, I agree with that assessment, although I am of the opinion that there are some single malts cutting a fine figure inside of a cocktail, but those are certainly more cheaper ones (if “cheap” can any longer be used to describe the ever rising prices of Single Malts).
The Single Malt I’d like to present here is far away from a cocktail ingredient, and therefor completely unsuitable to be poured in a mixing glass (although one should never say “never”). It is one of my – if not the – absolute favorite malts: The Lagavulin Distillers Edition. The Lagavulin Distillery is located on the south coast of the Scottish Hebridean island of Islay. Lagavulin whiskeys are characterized by a rather strong smokiness. The Lagavulin Distillers Edition matured 16 years, particularly in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. It can not be entirely ruled out that it minimally differs in flavor from batch to batch. The photo shows a Lagavulin that was bottled in 2010 and its content was distilled in 1994.
Before I talk about the taste, I must warn: many people do not like smoky whiskies at first contact. For them, the whole thing smells like a stale ashtray or a piece of smoked eel from the day before. This is certainly not a pure invention, but the secret is to simply let it happen and try it! You will be rewarded in the long run, because the first impression turns out to be – at least that’s how it was in my case – a completely superficial fallacy: The smoke has complex notes on and it and if you smell the whiskey for some time there are always new notes and components coming through, of which one would initially never thought that they hide in such a spirit.
Nose: Very strong smoke – reminiscent of smoked eel – harmonically after a while in a Oloroso-sweetness with hints of dark fruit; salty & maritime
Taste: smoky, spicy with sweetness and full of oiliness; a little salt (sea water associations) and fruitiness (dark fruit, maybe plum), eerie complex!
Finish: dry and very, very long with smoke, sweet nuts and a little salt. The taste remains in the mouth for several minutes. Just great!