husband, father, whisky lover, blogger, freelance whisky writer, and head of the New Jersey Whiskey Society & leading the USBG NJ efforts...currently the New Jersey Whisky Ambassador for Diageo & therefore leave the recent writing duties to guest bloggers, primarily that Bourbon loving fella named Gerard

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lagavulin 16


Let me open by being perfectly honest…Lagavulin 16 is my all time favorite Scotch as of this writing.  I have purchased it numerous times, and I absolutely love it!!

Therefore, the environment for this tasting will be mixed.  I have enjoyed this dram in the summer, over a cigar at a friend’s house.  Even bathed in crisp sunlight, this whisky has a solid deep amber color, and a thick, full and rich body.  I have also enjoyed it in the bitter cold of winter while watching some NFL Football.  (that is when you know you are a Scotch hound…when it literally becomes the exclusive alcoholic beverage of choice regardless of event)  It simply works under any climate, setting, and has the great ability to accelerate a conversation.

Lagavulin is an Islay Single Malt Scotch whisky and is the standard for the brand.  They regularly release a 12 year cask strength variety, and a Distiller’s Edition (usually finished in Pedro Ximenez casks).  There are a few others that are generally well received by enthusiasts, but the 16 is the flagship. 

There seems to be a slight difference in the peat influence with the ‘Big 3’ Islay’s.  (Ardbeg, Laphraoig, Lagavulin) and while I think they are all wonderful and mesmerizing, the Lagavulin really does it for me.  Chances are that means that I would rather drink band aids than a campfire, but either way I am thankful for the drink!

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Layered and deep.  There is the trademark peat smoke there, but the beauty is a subtle sweetness, and the iodine (band aids) and seaweed that comes through.  Showing the exposure to the coastline and the extremely slow process this spirit has gone through.  I would imagine this is what Neptune’s smoking jacket smells like.

Palate:  Insanely complex, like a word problem with too many variables that you have to read over again.  After the dry peat smoke, the substantial sweetness of berries and vanilla pass over me.  Chasing after the sweetness are the sea and salt notes.  Buried deep and not getting tangled with anything is the wood…as it all starts to dry your tongue.

Finish:  Extremely long and elegant.  The peat is there, and so is the sea.  The sweetness is what is so surprising.  I am blown away by how consistent this flavor profile is from beginning to end.


Their little catchphrase on the packaging is spot on…this Scotch “Takes out the fire, but leaves the warmth”.  I have to say this dram is one of those experiences that filled a void in me that I didn’t know existed.  It has the earthy peat you want out of an Islay but still enough vanilla and berries to balance it out.  That medicinal character will keep you tuned in the whole time, and I love how the years have smoothed out the edges and ironed out the wrinkles that can be found in some other Islays.  Long story short, I agree with many others when they say that this whisky is a ‘classic’.  If you shut your eyes and focus on this one, it is a genuine escape and quick trip to Islay

Score:  93


  1. Its strange that most new whisky drinkers hate it. But as you move on you come to love it. When you understand about how and where it is made it just grows and grows. I put 2 teaspoons of water in mine and for me that is the best.

  2. I know what you mean. I usually start new whisky drinkers off with much friendlier options, like a Balvenie DW, or Glemorangie 10. Something to ease them into whisky. I don't want to scare them off, haha!

    It can take a while for some palates to enjoy peat and even coastal flavors for sure. But like you said, you come to love it!

    (I love Ralfy too!)