The whisky was created in honour of whisky scribe Alfred Barnard from the 19th century, who sampled an eight-year-old Lagavulin during a visit to Islay and described it as “exceptionally fine” and “held in high repute”.
Aged exclusively in refill American oak casks, Lagavulin 8 Year Old is said to be “magnificently full” with tasting notes of charred, minty, dark chocolate, and sweet, smoky and warming flavours.
Georgie Crawford, distillery manager at the Lagavulin distillery, described the variant as being “both challenging and serene at the same time” and “very sophisticated for its age”.
“What we really wanted to express with 200 years is the feeling of the place [Islay],” added Crawford. “We wanted to look as far back as possible in the 200-year history that we have.
“We went through the stories, looking at the age of the stories and took that to the blending team and asked whether based on the stories, could they come up with something for us?
“They have knocked it out of the park for us. We are trying to make it as a homage, a tribute – an eight-year-old whisky was actually quite old back then.
“We wanted to make an exceptionally fine whisky and I think they have done an exceptional job doing that.”
The launch of Lagavulin 8 Year Old marks the beginning of the distillery’s 200-year anniversary celebrations, and will be launched twice during 2016.
Additional celebratory events will also take place throughout the course of the year.
“This is a special year for a much loved single malt Scotch whisky revered around the world as the definitive Islay whisky,” commented Dr Nick Morgan, Diageo head of whisky outreach.
“There are a variety of plans across the year to bring people to Islay, and to bring Islay to as many people from around the globe as possible.
“We are thrilled to begin the celebrations for such a historic occasion with the launch of the first Lagavulin 8 Year Old for many years.”