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Lagavulin 16 Year Old

Laga-Lovin' This!

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@whiskyjourneyReview by @whiskyjourney

5th Apr 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Let me open by being perfectly honest…Lagavulin 16 is one of my all time favorite Scotches as of this writing. I have purchased it numerous times, and I absolutely love it!!

I have enjoyed this dram in the summer, over a cigar at a friend’s house. Even bathed in crisp sunlight, this whisky has a solid deep amber color, and a thick, full and rich body. I have also enjoyed it in the bitter cold of winter while watching some NFL Football. (that is when you know you are a Scotch hound…when it literally becomes the exclusive alcoholic beverage of choice regardless of event) It simply works under any climate, setting, and has the great ability to accelerate a conversation.

Lagavulin is an Islay Single Malt Scotch whisky and is the standard for the brand. They regularly release a 12 year cask strength variety, and a Distiller’s Edition (usually finished in Pedro Ximenez casks). There are a few others that are generally well received by enthusiasts, but the 16 is the flagship.

There seems to be a slight difference in the peat influence with the ‘Big 3’ Islay’s. (Ardbeg, Laphraoig, Lagavulin) and while I think they are all wonderful and mesmerizing, the Lagavulin really does it for me. Chances are that means that I would rather drink band aids than a campfire, but either way I am thankful for the drink!

Tasting Notes

Nose: Layered and deep. There is the trademark peat smoke there, but the beauty is a subtle sweetness, and the iodine (band aids) and seaweed that comes through. Showing the exposure to the coastline and the extremely slow process this spirit has gone through. I would imagine this is what Neptune’s smoking jacket smells like.

Palate: Insanely complex, like a word problem with too many variables that you have to read over again. After the dry peat smoke, the substantial sweetness of berries and vanilla pass over me. Chasing after the sweetness are the sea and salt notes. Buried deep and not getting tangled with anything is the wood…as it all starts to dry your tongue.

Finish: Extremely long and elegant. The peat is there, and so is the sea. The sweetness is what is so surprising. I am blown away by how consistent this flavor profile is from beginning to end.


Their little catchphrase on the packaging is spot on…this Scotch “Takes out the fire, but leaves the warmth”. I have to say this dram is one of those experiences that filled a void in me that I didn’t know existed. It has the earthy peat you want out of an Islay but still enough vanilla and berries to balance it out. That medicinal character will keep you tuned in the whole time, and I love how the years have smoothed out the edges and ironed out the wrinkles that can be found in some other Islays. Long story short, I agree with many others when they say that this whisky is a ‘classic’. If you shut your eyes and focus on this one, it is a genuine escape and quick trip to Islay…

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Rigmorole commented

I was up camping at Dead Man's Pass near Mt. Ashland with a bottle of Lag and some cigars. My friend named Dan (from Michigan) and I were sitting there just after dusk when we saw red lights coming over the ridge to our north. We thought it was a forest fire and the only road out was due north, so we thought we were cooked. Then the lights went up over our heads and some greenish blue lights came up from the east. It was the Northern Lights on the California border! That night (1999?) they went all the way down to New Mexico in a freak sunflare incident. Needless to say, Dan and I polished off the whole bottle of scotch between the two of us and smoked all the cigars. It was a night to remember and Lagavulin made it all the better! We thought we were gonners but it ended up being a rare treat of solar fireworks instead!

Back then, Lagavulin seemed a bit more polished, less harsh, and more sophisticated. I think the whisky was sometimes older than 16 years, quite a bit older. These days, some of the whisky in the bottle almost seems younger than 16 years to me. It almost seems as though there is a little young mixed in with the 16 year stuff. It's probably just my imagination but back about fifteen years ago, it seemed more mild with more depth and more happening on the palette and the finish. The nose seemed about the same, though. Actually, as much as I still like The Lag now, I liked it much better fifteen years ago. It was a more well rounded bottle of single malt scotch then, at least in my estimation. Plus, Lagavulin was way cheaper back then, even when inflation is accounted for.

7 years ago 0

smokeybarrels commented

Superb review of a truly great whisky. You've just reminded me how much I love this stuff, and that it's time to buy another bottle. For which I thank you!

7 years ago 0

teebone673 commented

Great review of an even better whisky. I know what you mean when you say we are scotch hounds. No matter the event, scotch is my drink of choice. Thanks for the review.

7 years ago 0

Nolinske commented

Great Review! I need to get a bottle as i do not have one it stock at the moment :(

7 years ago 0

whiskyjourney commented

Thanks so much for the kind words everyone, and the cool story rigmorole! I love this community!

7 years ago 0

Lars commented

Beautiful review, I couldn't agree more. I now have to open this bottle and have a dram this evening.I wish it wasn't so expensive here!

7 years ago 0

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