The Lagavulin 16 and its distillery has a long and venerated history. It was originally established in 1816 by John Johnston and was brought to perfection under the tutelage of Sir Peter Mackie. Mackie was a pre-eminent figure in the late 19th century whisky industry and creator of the famous White Horse blended scotch.
Lagavulin 16 is consistently ranked as one of the world’s great single malt scotches. International spirits ratings competitions have generally given Lagavulin’s 16-year spirit extremely high scores. The San Francisco World Spirits Competition, for instance, gave the 16-year four consecutive double gold medals between 2005 and 2008. To meet the demand, the distillery operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Lagavulin is an Islay malt implying that it’s smoky. Not the smokiest malt out there but it has a kick! Smokiness is measured in ppm of phenol, a chemical compound imparted in the barley by the peat smoke. Lagavulin has 30-40ppm compared to a smokier Ardbeg which has around 55 ppm.
But that’s small potatoes compared to Bruichladdich Octomore 5.1 which boasts an absurd 169 ppm! Rest assured that’s an exception and most of the Islay malts will fall within the 20-50ppm category.
Of all the great scotches, Lagavulin 16 is the one scotch I would encourage everyone to try at least once in their life. It’s a sturdy scotch to be sure and may not be to everyone’s liking. But this is truly a sipping whisky meant to be shared on a snowy evening with good friends and stimulating conversation.
Producer: Lagavulin Distillery
Origin: Islay Scotland
Price Range: $$$$
Awards: San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2005, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16; Beverage Testing Institute 2015 (94); Wine Enthusiast 2004 (90-95)
Tasting Notes —
Color: Deep amber gold.
Nose: Intensely flavoured, peat smoke with iodine and seaweed and a rich, deep sweetness.
Palette: Dry peat smoke fills the palate with a gentle but strong sweetness, followed by sea and salt with touches of wood.
Finish: A long, elegant peat-filled finish with lots of salt and seaweed.
$$$$$ = Greater than $100
$$$$ = $80 – 100
$$$ = $50 – 80
$$ = $30 – 50
$ = Less than $30
Further Ratings & Reviews
There are many websites and blogs that do an excellent job of reviewing and rating whiskies. As mentioned above The Whiskybits Composite Score is based on an average of at least three reviews conducted by industry leaders. The reviews sites normally referenced include The LA Whisk(e)y Society, The Whisky Reviewer, Proof 66, The Whisky Advocate and The Whisky Jug.