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POP goes the cork! My expectations were very high for this whisky, mainly due to the excellent reviews and ratings it has receive. I am not disappointed! As the whisky glugs into the glass, the unmistakable Islay aroma tickles my senses.
Nose: I would describe the Lagavulin 16 as a “gentle giant” on the nose. The smell of peat and smoke is unmistakable, but it is not overpowering and in fact it balances nicely with the presence of citrus fruits such as lemon zest and orange. It almost as though the peaty smoke and the citrus fruits compete for my attention, as one pulls the other back just as it gains some dominance. This is wonderful. On a further nosing the fragrance of licorice wafts up to compliment the other scents. This is beautiful harmony without any trace of alcohol. I can smell earth and dry grass, like being the unfortunate recipient of a good football tackle! This whisky is quite soft on the nose such that no burning sensation even remotely discomforts the nasal passages, something I have not experienced except with the Johnny Walker Green and Platinum.
Colour: A lovely amber with the shimmer of gold.
Taste: This whisky smoothly slides down my tongue like slik tickling it with a gentle but strong peat and smoke flavor that is beautifully balanced with the citrus fruits evident in the nosing. Bitter orange and licorice line my tongue and coat it with a flavor that lingers while a soft yet pleasant warmth enlivens my throat and esophagus as subtle sting serves a reminder of the 43% alcohol content. This is a very pleasant and complex whisky, with several lawyers and flavours.
Finish: A wonderfully long presence of citrus and licorice lingers after an initial but gradual build up of flavor. This cannot be described as a burst or explosion, but rather a quick heightening of robust and complex flavor that remains on the tongue and in the mouth for some time. The flavor tickles my tongue, back and forth to its tip and its base.
Overall: My tasting of the Lagavulin 16 reveals a “gentle giant”. It is BIG but not aggressive. The Lagavulin 16 has lots of deep and complex flavor, but I did not experience the sudden and sometimes unwelcome explosion of flavor that deadens my taste buds. The build up in flavor was quick but not immediate, thereby allowing me to appreciate the wonderful flavours of this whisky.
This is a bottle of whisky that I would definitely buy again. I think I prefer the older Islay malts, which have a weakened peat smokiness and a softness that comes with age.