Lagavulin 16 year old is one of Islay’s greatest gifts to the rest of the world.
What an elegant, austere and classy looking bottle. What a beautiful rich orange amber liquid. What a gorgeous smoky rapture. And also…
…what a wet band-aid slap in the face of a bottle. Yep…you read that right. Hang tight…we’re coming back to this.
One of the big three from Islay, and named as one of the Classic Malts, Lagavulin enjoys a fairly stellar reputation. Deservedly, I’d say. What a monster. Absolutely typical of an Islay bruiser, this is a peat and smoke bomb. The nose is huge. Lush with earth, fire, salt and iodine. Smoke blankets it all nicely, and peat shines through everywhere. Aside from all of these base components of Islay, you’ll also find a bit of orange, spice and oak.
When adding water I would suggest mere drops. A shame this whisky is bottled at only 43%. As such, too much water will surely drown this. (I am itching to get my hands on the 12 year old cask strength, to see what this is like without the additional 4 years of mellowing, and at proper strength. When I do, rest assured notes will follow).
On the palate this is mellow and smooth. A bit of sherry on top of everything mentioned earlier. It is quite oily and mouth-coating. A little bit sweet…a little bit bitter…without being bittersweet. (???)
Now…what was that about wet band-aids? These whiskies tend to have what many refer to as a medicinal smell. Lagavulin has this in spades of course, but it is more defined. It truly is a band-aid-like scent. Odd, but tangible.
The finish is beautiful and long. So long, in fact, that I went to bed after a couple of drams last weekend, and woke up still tasting smoke.
A friend of mine, David, offers the sagely advice that one should drink for the season. If this is your philosophical approach to whisky, then you’ll be certain to think of this as a winter dram (or maybe a damp, windy, late fall evening dram). Though I follow this logic for the most part, I just want to add…follow your taste buds and cravings. I’ve sipped the peat monsters on late summer night outdoors and enjoyed them immensely.
Whisky should be personal.
One last thing…you must read this beautiful little review for a more…esoteric approach to this wonderful whisky:
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt