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Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

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Related whiskies : Lagavulin 16 Years Old

Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby Novice Scotch Fan » Wed May 13, 2009 2:22 am

What follows is a review I wrote on another site tonight of this single malt based on my first time tasting it.

When I first started drinking scotch I did not like anything peaty. I prefered sugary sweet or honeyed scotches like Famous Grouse. However, over time my tastes have matured and now I have grown to appreciate the peat component of scotch whisky to the point that I actually am a fan of an Islay single malt scotch, namely Lagavulin.

This love affair with Lagavulin started this evening. While I had started to enjoy more peat flavors in my blended scotch, I had not found a single malt that I could say I enjoyed. Well, all that changed this evening. I am currently in Prince Edward Island for some meetings. So, I drove four hours, had a little dinner and went to a very lame social mixer. Left that promptly with a couple of friends in tow and headed to the club house bar (the resort has three golf courses!).

So, we are sitting at the bar and I am surveying the collection of liquor bottles in pyramid formation against a mirrored wall, and not seeing much in the way of scotch except for three bottles, Glenfiddich 12 year old, a bottle of Cragganmore and Lagavulin. Well, I had the Glenfiddich a million times in the past, and as for the Cragganmore, I was seriously considering it when I started thinking about the Lagavulin.

Lagavulin is one of those single malt scotches that I read about on whisky blogs that scotch aficionados go on about. Basically people who know their scotch, really praise this one. So, having that brain wave wash over my strong body, but weak in spirit, I pointed to the Lagavulin and told the bartender to pour me a double. (A single is simply not enough needed in order to formulate a tasting note, which by the way, I feverishly scratched out between snorts of this heavenly stuff).

Nose
I nosed it at first and was surprised at how sophisticated and refined the smoke, peat and spice (I'm thinking nutmeg). Nosing this, I knew immediately that I was in for a treat. Nothing on the nose threw off a scent of cheap alcohol. Lots of smoke even while I sat. If you walked into the room, you would be searching for the roaring fire of tree branches and peat ("an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter" - according to Wikipedia) producing billowing smoke. Well, there is no fire, just my glass, so why don't you sit down at the bar next to me and my friends and let us go on a wonderful journey.

Palate
With some trepidation I take a sip, expecting to be disappointed, as I have been with another famous Islay scotch, Laphroaig. However, there is no disappointment. I take my sip, hold it, rolling it around, the bartender stares at me pensively (probably think how much i will tip him) and contemplate a most wondrous scotch tasting experience. On the palate, a silken liquid of considerable viscosity bathes my palate in a gently sweet wood smoke, moving to mint, peppermint and cool menthol. The liquid is warming. There is no heat, burn or roughness of any kind. Have no fear, you can drink this "neat" (no water or ice need apply to this job!). I also detect some green olive with the red pimento in the centre coming through. Oh, this is glorious stuff. The stuff that dreams are made of. I ask the bartender, tarbender for a napkin and a pen. I have to capture this moment without delay. My friends shake their head. The bartender looks on fearing maybe I am writing a note of complaint to his manager, but oh no, I am writing this very tasting note, documenting what I am picking up on the nose, the palate and of course, the finish!

Finish
More smoke baby! This palate of mine is smoking like a Motley Crue stage or Studio 59 at midnight with all the dry ice. Yeah, I am tasting wood smoke, peat, like a nice menthol cigarette, and that sweetness like that first kiss! oh yeah! Follow that with brine and sea salt and I know I have just downed the best damn scotch I have had in a very long time. It lingers too. The finish lingers for quite a while after I down it. This is no cheap two buck chuck finish.

General Impressions
I did not like peated scotch very much prior to tasting this. I associated Islay with heavy peat married with rubbing alcohol. I now stand corrected. Islay scotch can be very enjoyable. I am shocked and in a state of wonderment as to how good this scotch is.

There are 22 previous reviews of this scotch and I do not think any are negative. So much praise comes for good reason. It is expensive but an incredible treat well worth it. My double Lagavulin cost me $17! Well that was the first one. As for the tip, the barman was relieved when he found out I was writing notes for this review on a napkin he supplied.
. . .

Unfortunately this is not available in my province.
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby pkt77242 » Wed May 13, 2009 2:39 am

NSF, glad to see that you enjoyed the Lagavulin. IMHO the best distillery out there. I hope you manage to buy a bottle somewhere and bring it back home as it is worth it. If you enjoy this and you like sweet whiskies (especially sherried ones) try the Lagavulin DE. :thumbsup:

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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby Reggaeblues » Wed May 13, 2009 9:17 am

A fun story NSF! Always great to read tasting notes that are more than just clinical descriptors!

My Lagavulin 16 story begins about 10 years ago. I was at an afternoon party at a house by the river. I was on my way to play a gig that night and knowing this, the host insisted I entertain his guests with a few songs. I declined. He then pointed to a litre bottle pf Glenfiddich "No Age Statement" (as it then was) and said "I'll give you this!" Still unimpressed. I was not a whisky drinker, even though I knew this was a "good " one, whatever that meant. I had recently split with a girl who used to buy Glenfiddich for me to drink before sex...anyway, some people will try anything to get what they want!!

So he furthur persuaded me by pointing to another litre bottle, saying "I'll give you that too!" Now, I hate whisky, right? But that bottle had a look about it that said "I belong in your house." Tall, dark, and with two labels, one perpendicular to the other. It looked regal. The bottom one said LAGAVULIN. I had never heard of it, but reading the label, I felt I was standing on the threshhold of some mystical new world...like "Middle Earth" or "Narnia." Anyway, it was enough to persuade me to unbutton my axe and entertain his guests for a bit.

The bottle stood in my office or awhile. God knows why, but one night I was intrigued to open it. Whisky smells like whisky, right? Wrong! The aroma that came out of that bottleneck was like nothing I had ever encountered. I remember thinking that if someone could have distilled a 16th century Bible, this is what it would taste like. I can't remember my first sip, funnily enough, but I remember beginning a journey which simply took me deeper and deeper into the Aladdin's cave of flavours that unfolded everytime I poured a little. This was, literally, my first serious whisky encounter!

It too became my favourite whisky. From there I enjoyed Oban, on a well paid trip to Scotland with my band for the Millenium celebrations, followed by Macallan(I love the "old" sherried style) Laphroaig(I liked it, but much rougher! One for the flask on a winter's walk. When I first tried it, I could "taste the history of all the battles that ever were fought on Scottish soil." Evocative? You bet!)Bowmore... But Lagavulin remained king.

Over the years it has been replaced by Ardbeg 10 as my consistent house malt - my first impression of it, having been brought into my girlfriend's house by her for her visiting father, a Scot, was "Laphroaig's well-behaved delicate sister". Back then I knew nothing about regions, nor that Lagavulin, Ardbeg and Laphroaig are situated almost next door to each other on the southe shor of Islay, hence they share many features in their flavour profile, proving that whisky, like no other drink, is a product of its environment.

But Lagavulin remains a favourite. I was given, a year later, for my 50th, the Distller's Edition. Wow! I' have since had several versions of the limited edition Lagavulin 12, which is around 57%, and without the sherried influence of the 16. Much more raw in style. But I do hope you get to try all of these "expressions" one day, just so that you can experience the broad spectrum of bottlings that any great distillery produces.



Enjoy the journey! It's endlessly alluring, and fascinating.
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby dramtastic » Wed May 13, 2009 11:13 am

[quote="Reggaeblues"]I had recently split with a girl who used to buy Glenfiddich for me to drink before sex...anyway, some people will try anything to get what they want!! quote]


Sure it wasn't just to make her look better. I mean I've heard of beer goggles, I guess whisky could work just as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :P
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby dramtastic » Wed May 13, 2009 11:22 am

Anyway novicescotchfan, glad the Laga knocked your socks off, it's one of my top 3 malts.
One question, have you tried Laphraoig Quarter Cask? It has the sweet/peat thing going on and is my fave Islay so far after Laga 16.
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby Novice Scotch Fan » Wed May 13, 2009 11:33 am

dramtastic wrote:Anyway novicescotchfan, glad the Laga knocked your socks off, it's one of my top 3 malts.
One question, have you tried Laphraoig Quarter Cask? It has the sweet/peat thing going on and is my fave Islay so far after Laga 16.


Haven't had the Laphraoig Quarter Cask. I sampled Ardbeg last year and liked it too, but I recall it was not as refined a Lagavulin. Nevertheless, I will be giving Ardbeg another try.

What I really like about Lagavulin is the element of sweet smoke, but the sweetness is not candied or sickly sweet. Anyway, what a discovery!
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby The Third Dram » Wed May 13, 2009 12:58 pm

My first encounter with Lagavulin occurred back in the 1980s, when I purchased a bottle of the (then) standard 43%ABV 12 Year Old. It didn't last long!

Lagavulin strikes me as the consumate 'mood' whisky... one that you always approach with the anticipation of satisfaction and one that always seems to offer up little 'surprises' you may have never noticed previously.

And as you've stated, it makes for the perfect after-dinner dram!
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby red » Wed May 13, 2009 2:06 pm

When I told my friend that about this one, they all told me that it was theirs personal favorite :)

Personally I love it!

I hope I won't have too hard time to find more of it!

Did you try other province liquor store website? Some might be shipping it to your province ?
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby RogerB » Wed May 13, 2009 3:32 pm

I'm another big fan of Lagavulin 16. It's simply a fantastic and elegant whisky. I'm also a big fan of the other Islays too though(Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Bowmore, Caol Ila, etc...).
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby Scotched » Wed May 13, 2009 6:40 pm

My first taste of Lagavulin 16 was a defining moment in my whisky education. I remember my first words after sipping it, "My God! That is amazing...".

The distillers edition and 12 yr old CS are also wonderful but I suggest you try the Laphroaig 15 if you find the 10 too rough as thats also a great dram.

Laphroaig 10 grows on you though... :P I much prefer it to the QC but maybe thats just me...

Cheers,
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby RogerB » Wed May 13, 2009 7:51 pm

Scotched wrote:My first taste of Lagavulin 16 was a defining moment in my whisky education. I remember my first words after sipping it, "My God! That is amazing...".

The distillers edition and 12 yr old CS are also wonderful but I suggest you try the Laphroaig 15 if you find the 10 too rough as thats also a great dram.

Laphroaig 10 grows on you though... :P I much prefer it to the QC but maybe thats just me...

Cheers,
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Have you tried the Laphroaig Cask Strength? If so, how does that compare with the other expressions?
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby Reggaeblues » Thu May 14, 2009 10:24 am

dramtastic wrote:
Reggaeblues wrote:I had recently split with a girl who used to buy Glenfiddich for me to drink before sex...anyway, some people will try anything to get what they want!! quote]


Sure it wasn't just to make her look better. I mean I've heard of beer goggles, I guess whisky could work just as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :P


No. She was sexy and pretty without alcoholic enhancement. I never drank much because i didn't like whisky then! I mixed it with water and tried to down it asap. didn't "get" the flavours at all. It was the Lagavulin that woke me up!

Come to think of it, maybe SHE needed the whisky to cope with her balding "older man." Damn! :shock:
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby Novice Scotch Fan » Thu May 14, 2009 2:43 pm

Anyone wanna advise me how Ardbeg compares to Lagavulin? Which do you prefer and why?
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby Megawatt » Fri May 15, 2009 4:57 pm

I can't comment on that but I will say that when I first tried Lagavulin 16, I was quite horrified. I was expecting smoke and peat but not that intense antiseptic flavour. I could have believed that they served me something from the medicine cabinet. I still drank it, but just barely.

Now, maybe a year later, I would rank it as one of my favourite whiskies. Funny how the palate changes.
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby Bruichladdict » Fri May 15, 2009 6:41 pm

Imagine Lagavulin with MORE peat and NO sherry. It really did remind me of hot roof tar. Now it was a pub bottle, I don't know how old. Some people are able to taste past the peat and get some fruit and vanilla...I've only tasted once...I think it would take me much of the bottle to taste through the smoke and peat.
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby Reggaeblues » Fri May 15, 2009 6:47 pm

Novice Scotch Fan wrote:Anyone wanna advise me how Ardbeg compares to Lagavulin? Which do you prefer and why?


OK. Talking about the "official bottlings", Lag 16 and Ardbeg 10...

The Ardbeg is probably closer to the Laphroaig 10. Pale in colour and all that maritime in-yer - face peat smoke and kippers and medicinal stuff...but I find it subtler. I much prefer it. Underlying that, I find citrus and vanilla, and a rather more delicate attack. A really lovely dram, in fact. It's also a bit stronger at 46%, and non filterred, which to me is a bit like adding extra stereo to a music mix. One I keep coming back to.

but I could write all night. You have to try them!
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby Reggaeblues » Fri May 15, 2009 6:49 pm

Well, how about that! Just as I'm writing my last post , Bruichladdict gets his post in there...talking about how some people find "fruit and vanilla!!!"

Yes! Me over here!
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby Les Paul » Sat May 16, 2009 5:13 am

Lagavulin 16 is an incredible single malt. My favorite whisky, bar none. When a new song hits the right note...or when a clearing sky saves an old boat. It's that good. 8)
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby pkt77242 » Sat May 16, 2009 5:22 am

Novice Scotch Fan wrote:Anyone wanna advise me how Ardbeg compares to Lagavulin? Which do you prefer and why?


I usually get Peat, tar, salt and lemon from the Ardbeg 10.

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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby borgom » Sat May 16, 2009 7:53 am

Novice Scotch Fan wrote:Anyone wanna advise me how Ardbeg compares to Lagavulin? Which do you prefer and why?

Laga seems to have a more earthy peat with a sherry influence/balance. Maybe some dark fruits but no citrus.
Current Ardbegs almost always have a citrus, smoky peat and salt combo in varying degrees of balance.
My preference for either changes depending upon what sort of whisky I'm in the mood for. They're quite different under (and over) the peat.
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby thecraft » Mon May 18, 2009 5:31 pm

Reggaeblues wrote: I remember thinking that if someone could have distilled a 16th century Bible, this is what it would taste like.


Haha, I know what you mean though, I can get almost a leather and incense kind of flavour to it.

I add a little water to Ardbeg and Laphroaig and it really enhances the flavour, I made the initial mistake of doing the same with the Lagavulin 16 and Caol Ila 12 and they really don't need it. It kills the character for those two, I retried the Laga 16 straight and it is so much nicer but put me in mind of churches which put me in mind of the above quote!! Haven't drunk too much of the Caol Ila 12 so I will probably change my opinion as I get further down the bottle,but so far it reminds me a bit of the Lagavulin though, like it's little brother or something.
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Re: Lagavulin 16 yr old - Wow!

Postby pmullin » Mon May 18, 2009 8:52 pm

Novice Scotch Fan wrote:Unfortunately this is not available in my province.


Sad but true... although I have heard some vague rumors that we may see some of the Diageo products coming back.

In the meantime, Nova Scotia still carries Lagavulin, including some stock at the Amherst store: http://nslcweb.thenslc.com/portal/page?_pageid=33,3856650&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&product_id=1000923&region_id=0
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