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Lagavulin 16 Year Old

Ah, I Get it Now, Ron . . .

9 1189

@RianCReview by @RianC

13th Dec 2018


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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My first bottle of this a couple of years back was a bit of a let down truth be told. I was all prepped for this intense smoky, peat rich bomb and what I got was a pleasant yet slightly underwhelming peaty whisky that seemed out of kilter with others' experiences. I've since tried this in bars and enjoyed it more and so when I saw a bottle for £39 recently I thought, well, it would be rude not to!

This bottle has been open just over a week and review is without water.

Nose - A strong blast of iodine soaked peat with a sugary sweetness sitting stoically amidst the smoke. There's some coastal notes, salt (a touch) and seaweed, hints of sherry - brown sugar and some red fruits. Liquorice torpedoes and diesel. It puts me in mind of being in an old fashioned sweet shop as a kid, standing over the penny sweet tray while peat smoke from the fire inside seeps into the shop front. Very appealing this time around I must say.

Taste - Smoky, dry, sweet and sour all at once. This is quite complex and the mouthfeel is decidedly silky - it seemed 'thinner' last time round. The iodine and diesel notes sing loudly but they are backed all the way with the lovely integrated sweetness. It starts to turn much dryer as it develops and some bitter tannins creep in.

Finish - The finish is quite long and seems to almost have two parts: as the tannins start to emerge more you are left with a dry, slightly bitter taste. This is then complimented by an upsurge of smoke that really lifts the tail (and one's spirits).

So, I am now convinced my last bottle was below par. There was certainly a lot of chatter at the time that the quality was wavering. There's a great review on YT by Horst and his son that compares a recent bottle with one from 10 years ago that's worth a look. This bottle has been hard to put down in a way a whisky hasn't done for me in some time. It's also nice to return to a whisky and find it better than last time - not something I've had much luck with this last year. The bitterness at the end does hamper it a tad but overall this is a great whisky and worthy of its reputation for sure. Ron, I salute you!

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OdysseusUnbound commented

Thanks for the review. This has been a perennial favourite of mine for a long time, but I have also had a few less than stellar experiences with it in bars and restaurants. It could be an off batch, a poorly-stored bottle, or something else altogether. My current bottle is much like what you’ve aptly described here, but without any bitterness. There’s a bit of menthol/eucalyptus at the beginning of the finish, but the rich smoke just lingers forever. If only Diageo would bottle THIS at Cask Strength, or at least at 48%, I think it would be a 100 point whisky for me.

about one month ago 4Who liked this?

BlueNote commented

@OdysseusUnbound Agreed. Can't imagine what this stuff would be like NCF, natural colour and at least 46%. But then I suppose it would cost as much as the 12 CS. Nice review @RianC.

about one month ago 3Who liked this?

archivist commented

My favorite whisky, this review is on point and "silky" is completely accurate in taste/mouthfeel. Nice review of a classic, @RianC. It's delicious but would be even better if this was offered cask strength as @OdysseusUnbound aptly suggests.

about one month ago 1Who liked this?

conorrob commented

Great review @RianC ! Honestly at £39 what more can you ask for. I agree with @OdysseusUnbound... it would be better at a higher strength but maybe they could offer a cask strength alongside the standard version so that I can continue to be able to afford to have an open one on my shelf all year round ?

about one month ago 2Who liked this?

BlueNote commented

@conorrob Problem is a 16 year old CS would cost quite a bit more than the already pricey 12 CS. Nice to dream though.

about one month ago 0

conorrob commented

@BlueNote exactly my point .... i’d imagine £150 would be a starting point in Britain ... the standard laga is good enough for me ... haha

about one month ago 1Who liked this?

Robert99 commented

I went to Lagavulin last summer and tasting a 28 yo straight from the cask, we used a Valinch, was THE highlight of my trip on the whisky side. Pure Magic.

about one month ago 8Who liked this?

Robert99 commented

@RianC Believe me, it was. The tasting at Highland Park was the other Highlight of my trip. We were supposed to have the 18, the 22, the 25, the 30 and the 40 yo and 2 others (maybe the 12 and a 20yo). Anyway, the 22 (or 23) was not available and they replace it by a mystery dram. It was not, by far, the best one. It was a pale yellow like an Ardbeg 10 and we were told that it was a sherry cask. Most people thought it was very young, I went for very old because of a dill pickle flavor that I usually get when there has been a lot of oxydation. It appeared it was a 46 yo. For me, the best was the 25 yo. The 30 is still great, but after that it is going downward. It was very educative for somebody like me who did not have a lot of experience with older whiskies.

about one month ago 5Who liked this?

cricklewood commented

@RianC, awesome review, when it's firing on all cylinders Lag 16 is indeed stunning, 48% would probably make it even more interesting but I suspect they want to keep it in the chill filtered zone seeing as it's a bar staple.

about one month ago 1Who liked this?

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