Review: Lagavulin 16 Years Old

Category: Islay single malt scotch whisky

Origin: Lagavulin Distillery

Bottling: Official – Diageo

ABV: 43%

Cost: £48.50 from Amazon

Score: 87/100

Lagavulin 16 Years Old

What they say:

Above all, Islay means peat. Miles and miles of peat bog in the west of the island provide the raw material whose influence so characterises the south eastern Islay malts, of which Lagavulin™ is perhaps best known. The rich peaty water of Lagavulin runs down the brown burn to the distillery from the Solan Lochs in the hills above the distillery.

There’s nothing rushed about Islay, nor is there about Lagavulin™; before being bottled, the malt spends sixteen unhurried years maturing in oak casks, the longest maturation period for any of the Classic Malts offerings.

Long fermentation, long distillation and long maturation together ensure that Lagavulin develops all of its long, rich, peaty character. It’s is a spirit that likes to take its time. The definitive Islay malt demands nothing less.

LAGAVULIN 16 YEAR OLD
A much sought-after single malt with the massive peat-smoke that’s typical of southern Islay – but also offering a dryness that turns it into a truly interesting dram.

Lagavulin is an intensely flavoured, smoky-sweet single malt with seaweed flavours and a huge finish, aged in oak casks for at least sixteen years.

Strength :
43% ABV

Appearance :
Deep amber gold.

Nose :
Intensely flavoured, peat smoke with iodine and seaweed and a rich, deep sweetness.

Body:
Full

Palate :
A rich, dried fruit sweetness with clouds of smoke and strong, barley-malt flavours, warming with an intense flavour. At the back of the mouth is an explosion of peppery smoke.

Finish :
Huge, long, warming and peppery with a distinct appetising sweetness.

What I say:

Lagavulin has a huge reputation as one of the most powerful of the Islay Malts, though it does have to contend with its nearest neighbours Ardbeg and Laphroaig, both of which are no small Peat-Monsters themselves. The presumption is that JW Black Label derives its slightly odd earthy peatiness from Lagavulin. I suspect that if there is Lagavulin in JW Black Label then there is at least an equal amount of Caol Ila if not more! Bear in mind Lagavulin produced only 2.45 million litres of alcohol per annum compared to Caol Ila’s mighty 6.5 million, plus add in the premium price and huge reputation and following Lagavulin has. These minor details would suggest that more Lagavulin should end up as Single Malt bottlings in the Duty Free shop, or even shipped directly to the U.S. where it is hugely popular. Thanks in part to the quote from Johnny Depp who famously stated that “I don’t drink hard liquor anymore, but I sometimes order Lagavulin just for the smell.”. hmmm Eau-du-Depp…

Colour:

Muddy golden brown

Nose:

Deep peaty smoke and sherry aromas fight this one out, a little sea spray, seaweed and iodine with hints of spice, leather and an almost out-of-place fruity aroma

Taste:

Strong peat smoke bellows out across the tongue but is rapidly joined with sweet raisins and fig jam, woody oak and a little vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg spice, this is a thick syrupy dram

Finish:

No it doesn’t; this goes on forever with deep smoky peat, rich fruity sherry and woody oak