Ever have one of those moments where you awake at night and realize you forgot something at work? Such was this moment for me when I realized that I had never reviewed Lagavulin on my blog. The truth is that Lagavulin needs no introduction, what with Diageo having Ron Swanson as a spokesperson and all, but it is one of those whiskeys that it is crucial to have listed somewhere on your whiskey blog. The reason for this is credibility – folks tend to take your opinions more seriously when they know your thoughts on Lagavulin. Thus, without further ado, my thoughts on Lagavulin 16 year-old (bottled at 86 proof/43% abv.).
The nose is traditional Islay, peaty, with some iodine and salt mixed in, taking you right to the seashores of Scotland. The palate opens up the full complexity of this whisky. The peat is still there in full force, but it is backed by oak, barrel char, toffee, and some nuttiness. The finish is rich and well-peated, but it is also smooth and complex, with undertones of vanilla and roasted nuts.
There is a reason that for many whisky-drinkers, this is the benchmark by which all other Islay base-malts are judged – it is a consistently excellent beacon in whiskymaking. There is great balance in the smokiness and barrel flavors, and the whisky opens up to complex flavors as water is added. My grade: A-. Price: $60-70/750ml. If you claim to know the truth of Islay and have not embarked upon Lagavulin’s journey, its high time.