Lagavulin 16

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Lagavulin is an Islay distillery that produces some of the world’s finest single malt whisky. Their flagship product is a 16-year old whisky that’s famous for a rich, peaty aroma and a very mellow flavor. Lagavulin produces limited batches and demand tends to drive prices up significantly; it’s not uncommon to see single bottles of Lagavulin whisky on sale for more than a hundred dollars in the US.

Unlike malt-rich Scotches that present the nose with a distinct scent of molasses, the initial smell of Lagavulin is rich and smokey. Experts can usually detect strong wood components, redolent of cedar or pine, and hint of briney salt air. I would recommend enjoying the heady aroma of Lagavulin neat, before you add any water to it. Like most good whiskies it’s olfactory notes are more potent without dilution.

Lagavulin 16

Lagavulin feels distinctly pleasant on the tongue. It has a definite smoothness and it’s almost entirely lacking in “fire.” The initial taste sensations hit heavily on oak before progressing to the unmistakeable Islay peat taste, and it proceeds to delicate hints of hazelnuts and fruit. Towards the finish the peat taste grows more intense along with a smokey flavor. The finish itself goes on for a notably long time, evoking the sense of cherrywood and outdoor fires. It’s difficult to detect the evidence of barley here, with the malt and peat flavors sharing center stage. With its overall smoothness, this is a supremely refined sipping whisky.

After trying both neat Lagavulin and a glass with a little bit of water, it’s difficult to identify the difference between the two. While the flavors did spread more thoroughly with the neat whisky, there was little loss of overall sensation when water was added. In my opinion, watering Lagavulin adds little benefit to the experience.

I believe the Lagavulin is a perfect examle of kind of smokey, well-aged whisky for which Islay is rightly famous. Although the taste of beat is strong, the oak elements keep it in check. The overall smoothness of the dram is likely due to the whisky’s age.

I think Lagavulin would make a fitting companion for certain fine foods, including a well-aged steak, a rich creamy dessert, or a bit of fatty seafood (e.g. mackerel). It would also contribute something special to a fine cigar. It’s easily rich and complex enough to enjoy all by itself, though.

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