Review #14: Lagavulin 16
8 out of 10. Purchase.
Label if it were an SMWS: “Undulating Smoke”.
Overview: Yes, it’s their standard offering… but man do they do it well. Wonderfully creamy and oily, with an excellent balance between peat-and-sweet.
Bought for: $69/bottle
I started this review because Reddit’s /r/scotch (which is a really fantastic community, by the way) was doing a group review on Lagavulin 16 for December. I posted our review on there, but neglected to update Drunken Diplomacy with the review. And because we have several different expressions of Lagavulin, we did a side-by-side comparison with Isle of Islays (Exclusive Malt - very strongly hinted to be a Lagavulin), Lagavulin 18 (Feis 2018 edition), and Distiller’s Edition 2018.
The end rankings were as follows (reviews will be forthcoming and I will link them in this post as I go along):
Nose: Sweet honey glazed barbecue sauce, yeasty fino, barley, wet fall leaves, smoke but not the rubber glove type. Once your nose gets acclimated to the smoke, you start smelling some raisin and caramel.
Palate: Oily and creamy. Instant smoke bomb with leather, caramel on the next sip, with dark fruits and dulce de leche, before seaweed and cold smoke. Finish is long and dry smoke, which counteracts the creaminess on first-hit.
I know the Distiller’s Edition is quite well-reviewed, but Lagavulin 16 has the oiliness and meatiness I prefer to the DE version, which feels thin in comparison. It’s an incredibly complex dram, and its complexity was punctuated the other night when we tried blind tastings of it next to Glengoyne 10 and the DE version. The blind tasting made me even more of a fan.
100% Malted Barley
16 year old (hence the name)
Aged in ex-bourbon barrels and sherry casks next to the sea. However, there is no information out there on how long it is finished in the sherry cask.
We visited the distillery! Our recap of the distillery, where we did the tasting and nosing class, is here.
Diageo originally thought in 1989 that the Lagavulin 16 Year Old would be only for the “most dedicated” drinker since it was too smokey for the common palate
Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation) is one of the most famous fans. He recently dressed as a statue slowly sipping Lagavulin 16 for 45 minutes.