Collector57 wrote:A shadow of its former self IMO.
I'd have to agree, both in terms of inconsistency of flavour profile (i.e. variations in the nature of the smokiness as well as in the cask influence - for better or for worse, alas) and in terms of what it is now compared with what it once was.
The very best bottles of Lagavulin 16 Year Old I ever experienced were marketed during the 1990s, drawn from aged spirits distilled during a relatively short period between the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some of those distillates had come from a brief moment in the distillery's operation when the peat-reek (phenol) levels employed during the malting process climbed to around the 50ppm mark. Think Ardbeg minus the purifier aspect of the pot stills!
Fscott wrote:...I would like to do a tasting that starts in the Highlands and works its way to Islay.
I really like this concept. And I agree that Springbank, as representing a sort of 'crossover' malt between the Highlands and the islands, will make for a fine choice. (Old Pulteney, also being a coastal whisky, somewhat echoes this tact, though minus any appreciable smokiness.)
Other such whiskies you may wish to consider in a similar vein would include Highland Park, Scapa, Clynelish, Oban, Isle of Jura, Ledaig/Tobermory, Talisker and (to touch on two of the more 'accessible' Islay whiskies) Bunnahabhain along with Bruichladdich.