How To Read A Lagavulin Label

An auctioneers' guide to the much loved Islay single malt whisky.

How To Read A Lagavulin Label

When over 120 different expressions of Lagavulin were on offer in our January 2020 auction, we thought it was the perfect time to start putting together a list of Lagavulin distillery bottlings.

Lagavulin distillery was founded in 1816 on the South coast of Islay at Lagavulin Bay, close to Dunyvaig Castle. Founder John Johnston took over a second distillery on the same site which was absorbed into Lagavulin in 1837.

The distillery was purchased by whisky blender John Logan Mackie in 1862, and his nephew, Peter J Mackie, would go on to become a prominent figure in the whisky trade in the late 19th century. In addition to running Lagavulin, he co-founded Craigellachie distillery and created the White Horse blend which was launched in 1890. The company changed its name to Mackie & Co. in the same year.

Following a dispute with neighbouring Laphroaig distillery (whose whisky used to supply Lagavulin’s blends), Mackie built Malt Mill distillery in 1908. With stills modelled on those found at Laphroaig, Malt Mill contributed to blends including Mackie’s Ancient Scotch and White Horse, but was never bottled as a single malt. Malt Mill closed in 1962 and its equipment was incorporated into Lagavulin. When Peter Mackie died in 1924, the company changed its name to White Horse Distillers. It became part of Distillers Company Limited in 1927.

In 1988, Lagavulin 16 Year Old was selected as Islay’s representative in the Classic Malts range. Although owner United Distillers thought the distillery’s heavily-peated character would deter the average whisky drinker, the malt became a runaway success.

From the early 2000s, a cask strength Lagavulin 12 Year Old has become a constant feature in Diageo’s annual Special Releases, and the Distillers Edition vintage series saw Lagavulin’s peat smoke tempered by Pedro Ximenez cask finishing.

Lagavulin distillery celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2016 by releasing an 8 Year Old expression as well as a limited number of its 25 Year Old to raise money for Islay charities.

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Lagavulin, Diageo Special Releases

As well as the annual 12 Year Old cask strength bottling, there have been a number of older age statement bottlings of Lagavulin released as part of the Diageo Special Releases.

Lagavulin 25 Year Old, 2002 Release, 57.2% ABV 9000 bottles

Lagavulin 1976 30 Year Old, 2006 Release, 52.6% ABV 2340 bottles

Lagavulin 1985 21 Year Old, 2007 Release, 56.5% ABV 6642 bottles

Lagavulin 1991 21 Year Old, 2012 Release, 52% ABV 2772 bottles

Lagavulin 1976 37 Year Old, 2013 Release, 51% ABV 1868 bottles

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Lagavulin Feis Ile

The annual Feis Ile festival on Islay began in the mid 1980s to revive the Gaelic language and culture. What was once a Gaelic dance festival has now developed into full-blown celebration of Islay culture and distilleries. The first release of Lagavulin’s Feis Ile Single Cask came in 2007. The final single cask was bottled in 2012, after which the Lagavulin Feis Ile release was bottled from a vatting of casks.

Lagavulin 1993, Bottled 2007, Cask 4893, 56.5% ABV 708 bottles

Lagavulin 1993, Bottled 2008, Cask 1403, 52.9% ABV 580 bottles

Lagavulin 1995, Bottled 2009, Cask 4456, 54.4% ABV 660 bottles

Lagavulin 1994, Bottled 2010, Cask 3210, 52.7% ABV 528 bottles

Lagavulin 1998, Bottled 2011, Cask 1715, 51% ABV 588 bottles

Lagavulin 1998, Bottled 2012, Cask 1716, 55.1% ABV

Lagavulin 1995, Bottled 2013, 51% ABV 3000 bottles

Lagavulin 1995, Bottled 2014, 54.7% ABV 3500 bottles

Lagavulin 1991, Bottled 2015, 59.9% ABV 3500 bottles

Lagavulin 18 Year Old, Bottled 2016, 200th Anniversary, 49.5% ABV 6000 bottles

Lagavulin 16 Year Old, Bottled 2017, 56.1% ABV 6000 bottles

Lagavulin 18 Year Old, Bottled 2018, 53.9% ABV 6000 bottles

Lagavulin 19 Year Old, Bottled 2019, 53.8% ABV 6000 bottles

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Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival

The annual Islay Jazz Festival is promoted by Jazz Scotland and the Islay Arts Association and is sponsored by Lagavulin. The first festival edition was released in 2011. The bottlings switched from single casks to vattings after 2012.

Lagavulin 1993, Bottled 2011, Cask 356, 55.4% ABV 576 bottles

Lagavulin 1997, Bottled 2012, Cask 1894, 54.5% ABV 624 bottles

Lagavulin 1995, Bottled 2013, 51.9% ABV 1500 bottles

Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival 2015, 55.4% ABV 3500 bottles

Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival 2016, 200th Anniversary, 54.5% ABV 6000 bottles

Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival 2017, 57.6% ABV 6000 bottles

Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival 2018, 58.5% ABV 6000 bottles

Lagavulin 21 Year Old Islay Jazz Festival 2019, 50.9% ABV 2004 bottles