Lagavulin 16 YO is the classic Lagavulin expression, and yet it is the one I have the least experience with. I suppose the main reasons for this are that it is expensive, and I have ready access to cheaper, higher ABV bottlings like the 8YO and 12 CS. Also, tales of batch variation have put me off.
I first tasted this on Dec. 12, 2012. I had bought a 200 cc bottle and opened it at the holiday programme of a debating group (with the same people who formed my first Scotch club). I remember liking it and I finished it off well before 2016 (probably by 2013) which is when I started keeping track of these things.
Since that 200 cc bottle, I have had Lag 16 exactly once, at a restaurant at a wedding reception. I found it flat and disappointing. This experience and the excessive price exacted by the KGBO have kept it off my to do list… until now. On November 25, 2018 , @Odysseusunbound opened a fresh bottle and poured a sample for me that same day. The sample bottle has been closed since that time. Tonight, the drought is over.
This expression, in a Highland Whisky Glass, is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting. (Unlike @OdysseusUnbound, who reviewed this bottle, I did add water…for the sake of learning)
The peat hits you right away, mixed with fruit and ash. There’s a somewhat farmy quality in the background. Beneath the peat there are some baking spices, maybe a hint of mint, and sawdust. This is a nose that you can spend a lot of time on, or enjoy it in its wholeness. Water imparts a hint of lemon and wisps of salty sea air. (22.5/25)
Ashy, dry and bitter on the first sip. The next sip is sweeter, with some vanilla. The peat is full-forward, and ash in the development, with some pepper and something sour peaking through. Slightly thin on the mouthfeel (43% and likely chill-filtered), and the peat hides any complexity. Water sweetens the arrival, and cuts the ash a little. It brings out more pepper and some bitterness. The peat is pushed back into the late development and the finish. The mouthfeel becomes a little watery. (21/25)
Very astringent, with pepper fading away.
The palate delivers on the promise of the nose. But the peat hides any complexity that 16 years of wood may have imparted.
Score: Neat - 87/100 With Water: 86.5 /100
This one I think is best enjoyed neat.
I think this is a good whisky. But to be honest there is nothing so great about it that I can’t do without. I happen to be lucky enough to have gotten a few batches of the 12YO at a reasonable price, and the 8 is less diluted and less expensive.
That said, I would take a chance on this if offered, provided I was in the mood for peat and there was nothing available that drew me more strongly.
This sample is, for me, symbolic of a very important result of Connosr. It brought 2 people together who share samples so that we can taste more without buying full bottles. As prices go up and there is less time for dramming, this is the way to go. Thanks @Odysseusunbound (and @Jeanluc and @Pierre) for this tasting opportunity.