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Lagavulin 16 - huge disappointment

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Related whiskies : Lagavulin 16 Years Old

Lagavulin 16 - huge disappointment

Postby williammackinnon » Fri Jan 05, 2007 2:41 pm

Being very partial (understatement) to the Islay style and most particularly Arbeg (hallowed be thy name), I decided this Christmas to buy myself a bottle of Lagavulin 16, scored "95", albeit subjectively, in Michael Jackson's "Malt Whisky Companion".

I had tried it a couple of times before at Whisky Live, but had never purchased a full bottle. And I doubt I would again.

It smells nice enough, but to me the mouthfeel reminds me of something like Johnnie Walker Black Label i.e. the whisky WILL be travelling down your throat, but it will be wearing a jacket thank you very much.

In other words there is no flavour explosion/palate stimulation/whatever you want to call it.

Has being an Ardbeg adherent stretched my palate so that any smaller whiskies don't register?

I'll try it again in the Lismore when I get back to Scotland, just to make sure I didn't get a dud bottle.
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Postby Lee » Fri Jan 05, 2007 2:52 pm

I hope it was a dud bottle as I was planning to buy a bottle this weekend. It has been a long while since I last tasted it but remember liking it quite a bit. Maybe after it has been opened for awhile it will get better!
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Postby williammackinnon » Fri Jan 05, 2007 3:20 pm

Lee wrote:I hope it was a dud bottle as I was planning to buy a bottle this weekend. It has been a long while since I last tasted it but remember liking it quite a bit. Maybe after it has been opened for awhile it will get better!


Mine's was opened a week ago and is still the same (drinking it now).

Any bars near you where you might be able to have a dram before you fork out for a bottle?
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:36 pm

I think Ardbeg and Lagavulin are very different beasts. I have met a few Ardbeg fans that don't get the Laga 16 but then there is the flip side like me. I adore the Laga 16 but don't get Ardbeg. Just maybe a case it's not your thing. Of course they are many out there that like both also.

I find Lagavulin 16 to be a wonderfully tasty, rich flavoured & smooth dram but sometimes people cannot get past all the smoke and peat.

Don't be too dissapointed about it just stand tall and say I'm an Ardbeg man and be proud :wink:
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:43 pm

My experience is fairly similar to yours williammackinnon! The first drams of the Lagavulin 16 made me think of it as an inferior whisky. Well down into the bottle it changed dramatically as I became more used to and appreciative to the character added from sherry casks. It's now one of my favourites - together with the Ardbeg Ten and it's younger siblings. I'm sure you'll love it too in time. If not - well, then there's more than enough Ardbegs around :D
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Postby EdipisReks » Fri Jan 05, 2007 5:11 pm

i love Ardbeg TEN, but i love Lagavulin 16 even more.
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Jan 05, 2007 5:14 pm

Lagavulin 16 is one of the great whiskies on the market but they are hidden depths to it. I suggest you retry it without any pre conceptions. I saw the reference to Ardbeg in your post, was it the 10 you were refering to?
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Postby lbacha » Fri Jan 05, 2007 5:28 pm

It's hard to compare the two side by side if you were expecting Ardbeg like tastes when you tried the Lagavulin you definitly would be dissapointed but that would be like expecting a Bunnahabhain to taste like ardbeg as well because they are both Islays. The fact that you though it tasted like JWB is no suprice since the black contains lagavulin or used to, it may contain Caol Ila now but it still keeps that taste profile.

Like the earlier post said drink it with an open mind and you will be amazed at all the flavors and subtlties you will find. Nothing dominates and I think this is what makes it a great whisky.

I found a place on Oklahoma that I can get it for $47.50 a bottle and I plan on stocking up at that price before they change the taste profile again.

Len
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Postby Sherried Malt » Fri Jan 05, 2007 6:35 pm

Lee wrote:I hope it was a dud bottle...


This is a bit offtopic, but is there such a phenomenon for whisky? It's very common for wines, but have not heard it mentioned for single malts...
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Postby peergynt323 » Fri Jan 05, 2007 8:20 pm

Sorry to hear that you did not like it. Here are the biggest differences I find:
Ardbeg/Laphroaig: sweet, phenolic, oily
Lagavulin: dry, salty, smooth

As previously mentioned, they are very different styles. I like them both a lot, but I think I'm in the minority.
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Postby Mustardhead » Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:01 pm

peergynt323 wrote:As previously mentioned, they are very different styles. I like them both a lot, but I think I'm in the minority.


I also like them both a lot. Let's hear it for that minority ;)
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Postby ScotchPalate » Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:04 pm

Did you try adding some cool spring water to your Laga 16? I haven't tried Laga, but the cool spring water makes a significant difference in my Laph 10. Good luck.
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Postby Ardbeg311 » Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:39 pm

For whatever reason, I have experienced a lot of variation in the bottles of Lagavulin 16 I have bought. Unlike the Ardbeg 10, Uigeadail, and Laphroaig Quarter Cask (which have all been quite consistent in their taste), no bottle of the 16 has been the same for me. Some have been quite good and others have been kind of flat. The last bottle I had was pretty good.
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Postby Frodo » Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:04 pm

I found Laga 16 much more elegent compared to Ardbeg 10 or Laphroiag QC. It does have a lot going for it, but not as beligerent IMHO...
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Postby Wave » Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:39 pm

If your looking for the explosion of the likes of an Ardbeg and Laphroiag then you will be disappointed. The Laga 16 is a different animal, as Frodo says, "elegent". I love it along with most other Islays and have for the last decade or so at least one Lag 16 in my whisky cabinet at all times! :D


Cheers!
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:47 pm

peergynt323 wrote: Here are the biggest differences I find:
Ardbeg/Laphroaig: sweet, phenolic, oily
Lagavulin: dry, salty, smooth



I would add extremely smoky to the Laga . I still prefer the Laga 12 to the 16 , more umphh !!!!
It's still hard to believe that over the 2 miles of that bit of road 3 diverse whiskies can be produced .
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Postby Lugarteniente » Sat Jan 06, 2007 1:23 am

I think the laga16 is by far better than the one-dimensional & simple Ardbeg Ten. But that´s only my opinion.

Laga 12 it´s a different thing. I consider it ordinary comparing with the Laphroaig 10 CS (not tasted yet the Ardbeg Uigeadail).

P.D My favorite Islay malt is de Laga PX :oops:
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Postby TheLaddie » Sat Jan 06, 2007 2:44 am

I love both but they are very different and you're not forced to enjoy one if you enjoy the other. I do prefer an Ardbeg.

As other posters have said it's certainly worth giving the bottle a little more time, trying it with a drop or two of water etc. If you haven't tried it with a proper nosing glass this is worth a try as it will bring more out of the more "elegant" malts (I use the term elegant relative to the Ardbeg 10. Relative to most other malts Laga 16 is still a full-on monster) I've had several bottles of various malts I didn't "get" at first but appreciated more over a month or two with a little experimentation. If you have already paid for the bottle there is nothing to lose in keeping on trying.

On the other hand, if you don't like the stuff and don't buy it again there is no harm done. More for me! :P
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Postby Ize » Mon Jan 08, 2007 9:50 am

Note that Michael Jackson tasted Lagavulin with 95 score on late 90´s if I have understood correctly. After late 90´s Lagavulin taste has been known to be dumped down, for instance at http://www.maltmadness.com Johannes gives score 95 for early 90´s bottling and 92 for late 90´s bottlings where as only around mid-80 points for 2003/2004 bottlings. So the Lagavulin 16yo we can taste now, is not the same phenomenal whisky that people have tasted in 90´s.
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Postby Reggaeblues » Mon Jan 08, 2007 11:53 am

Good point Ize.

MJ also stongly recommends NO water with the Lag 16!! The only water I ever added was a few drops to a glass of 12YO...and never bothered to do so after that.

I was given a litre of Lag 16 way back in '98. It was my first whisky! I remember vividly my utter surprise on opening the bottle. The aroma that snuck out was like nothing on earth! Certainly not the whisky I had smelt on my headmaster's breath as a boy, nor in other people's glasses. this was an epic aroma, as if a huge, musty 16th century Bible had somehow been distilled and bottled. It took me a while to dare to taste it. When i did, curiosity turned to love...

Yes, elegent and powerful are two words I would use to describe it. As i got to know whiskies a little, Lagavulin became the yardstick for me.

But some years later, I discovered Ardbeg, and since the 10 has become a staple, I find the Lag lags behind! It seems tame in comparison. so it must be all relataive to what your senses are used to. It's still a whisky i'd never refuse, and will often choose if on offer in a "better" pub or bar.

But I too have noticed variations over the years. I recently had a bottle, found in a dusty corner of an indian deli, that had almost no nose! It was also noticeably sweeter than other bottles, even when compared side by side with another...It is still excellent whisky by any standards, but it has lost power for me.

Tho' as I said, this is largely Ardbeg's doing!
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:23 pm

Let us not forget that Lagavulin has suffered in recent years from a) great popularity (if that's suffering!), and b) a serious bottleneck in supply, since the distillery was running on short hours twenty years ago. I was told a couple years ago that virtually every drop available was going into 16yo, so that means they have not been able to pick and choose among the best casks. That the worst of the bottleneck is past is evidenced by the release of the 12yo, an attempt by Diageo, I think, to reestablish Lagavulin's presence (but at a price calculated to keep stocks from diminishing too rapidly). I would bet that there will be a resurgence in the 16's profile in the next few years. Worth keeping an eye on.

This sort of dilemma is not uncommon in the industry, I think. Macallan has faced much the same problem, and has dealt with it by releasing the Fine Oak. There's just not enough of the stuff everyone wants to go around, and all of the possible solutions--raising prices, diluting product, allocation--are onerous. Whisky is not Doritos, and you can't just make more. No use crying; one can only hope for better times. If such popular OB's lose their lustre a bit, they will cease to be such a hot commodity, and presumably cooling sales would allow for some retrenchment. Such are the cycles of the marketplace, exaggerated by the necessities of the industry. In the meantime, If a few old favorites have proved unreliable in recent times, it's hard to complain about the wide range of product available to us now, particularly IB's. Go with the flow and be thankful for what we have.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:38 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote: In the meantime, If a few old favorites have proved unreliable in recent times, it's hard to complain about the wide range of product available to us now, particularly IB's. Go with the flow and be thankful for what we have.

Well said Mr T. The quoted bit is something I've thought about from time to time because the favourites will change over time and as most things in life it goes up and down. However, with the availability these days one can move on and discover new things. After a while one can go back and maybe discover a former star becoming even better than it used to be.
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Postby peergynt323 » Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:45 pm

If you find something you like, buy a case a drink it slow. ;)
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Postby lexvo » Mon Jan 08, 2007 7:43 pm

I'm also one of the persons who like Lagavulin 16, Ardbeg 10 (and Laphroaig). These sure are different whiskies and I guess it is just a matter of taste. But Lagavulin happens to be my favourite :)
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Postby peergynt323 » Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:48 am

Ize wrote:Note that Michael Jackson tasted Lagavulin with 95 score on late 90´s if I have understood correctly. After late 90´s Lagavulin taste has been known to be dumped down, for instance at http://www.maltmadness.com Johannes gives score 95 for early 90´s bottling and 92 for late 90´s bottlings where as only around mid-80 points for 2003/2004 bottlings. So the Lagavulin 16yo we can taste now, is not the same phenomenal whisky that people have tasted in 90´s.


This is true, however Michael Jackson has not changed his score for Lagavulin 16yo, and I'm sure that he's had a dram or two of the "Port Ellen" bottling.

I trust Johannes and the Malt Maniacs a great deal in their whisky scores, but it's impossible to ignore the fact that older bottlings receive higher scores for every distillery. When you realize that one of your favorite malts has changed and that you will have to look twice as hard and pay five times as much for the old bottling as you used to, the new one can leave something of a bitter taste (pun intended).

There are many reasons Laga does not have the following that it used to and TH touched on a few. This does not make the newer bottling anything less than phenomenal though. Keep in mind that it does receive average scores of 87-89 on MM, which few <$100 OB's achieve. The last "White Horse" bottling did only slightly better than that.

Much like in a vertical tasting with wine, it's easy to exaggerate just how "bad" a particular bottling or vintage is.
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Postby Ize » Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:57 pm

peergynt323 wrote:This is true, however Michael Jackson has not changed his score for Lagavulin 16yo, and I'm sure that he's had a dram or two of the "Port Ellen" bottling.

Does this really happen and how regularly? And I mean rescoring the whiskies without knowledgement that it has been done. I didn't know this.

I trust Johannes and the Malt Maniacs a great deal in their whisky scores, but it's impossible to ignore the fact that older bottlings receive higher scores for every distillery. When you realize that one of your favorite malts has changed and that you will have to look twice as hard and pay five times as much for the old bottling as you used to, the new one can leave something of a bitter taste (pun intended).

I think I have read that Johannes has bought a big stack of Lagavulin 16 on mid-90's when he fall in love with it (not recently) and I think he has done even blind head-to-head comparison with newer bottlings, but I'm not sure of this. And what comes to old bottling, Johannes seem to have over 30yo bottlings of whiskies on his shit-list and 10yo whiskies with high rankings. So his scoring does not seem to be totally biased.

There are many reasons Laga does not have the following that it used to and TH touched on a few. This does not make the newer bottling anything less than phenomenal though. Keep in mind that it does receive average scores of 87-89 on MM, which few <$100 OB's achieve. The last "White Horse" bottling did only slightly better than that.

Well, I can taste the difference even between 2000 and 2002 bottlings and 2000 was better. I can only dream what might have been the stuff in 90´s. No one can argue with that. :)

Much like in a vertical tasting with wine, it's easy to exaggerate just how "bad" a particular bottling or vintage is.

Well, I did not say Lagavulin 16yo is nowadays bad. I just pointed out for the starter of this thread that some people consider that Lagavulin tasted better in 90's than nowadays which might be one of the reasons why the taste does not apply with M.J.'s score 95. I haven't had even opportunity to taste 90's Lagavulin, but I still like Lagavulin a lot. :)
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Postby peergynt323 » Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:52 pm

Oops...when i said "older" bottlings I meant "earlier." I think the Malt Maniacs do a great job setting age bias aside. Maybe too good a job, since the distilleries set aside their best casks to be aged longer.

I don't disagree that the earlier bottlings are in fact better. And trust me, I'm not defending Michael Jackson's scoring system (Macallan 12yo 91 pts?).

All I'm saying is that when something becomes rare or hard to find, it literally tastes better. It's kinda like that meal you had in Italy or the wine you tasted at the winery and brought home and said "Is this the same wine?" The human brain is a funny thing.
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Postby lbacha » Tue Jan 09, 2007 7:20 pm

I've had the older white horse bottling which was very good from the early 90's and it did seem smoother and more balanced. I think the newer bottles are great but the older one just seemed alot more balanced. Unfortunantly I was baised in the tasting since I knew it was a white horse 16 yr old bottling. I've also tried a dram of the older 12 yr old white horse bottling and this bias almost got me in trouble because the whisky is alot different now than that bottling. After getting over that it was a fabulous dram with alot of Lagavulin characteristics and alot of complexity. It was also a very special dram for me because I feel lagavulin 16 is the dram that set the hook in me for Islay drams. The Caol Isla 12 was my first taste of Islay but a night of drinking Lavavulin 16 with a distillers double matured bottling and a 12 yr CS mixed in hooked me better than a barbed hook could. Since then I've been to the distillery and tried a dram where the nectar is made as well as trying to taste as many different lagavulin's as possible.

Len
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jan 09, 2007 7:57 pm

peergynt323 wrote:All I'm saying is that when something becomes rare or hard to find, it literally tastes better. It's kinda like that meal you had in Italy or the wine you tasted at the winery and brought home and said "Is this the same wine?" The human brain is a funny thing.


"The brain is my second-favorite organ." --Woody Allen

I think you are quite correct that context makes a great deal of difference, pg. I know the Maniacs did their recent "best" ratings blind, but I don't know that all their ratings are done that way. Anyway, I don't normally drink my whisky blind. Try not to drink myself blind, either.
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Postby lbacha » Tue Jan 09, 2007 8:47 pm

When I was in the Netherlands the bar I went to had a selection of about 300 whiskies so me and a couple other guys would give the bartender a list of 10-15 whiskies to pour and have him throw a couple of his own choise in. We would then taste them all and rate them and then try to guess what they were. It was alot of fun and getting even a couple right was always nice. We would go for themes like sherried or peaty so it was a little trickier. It was neat to see what won and what didn't after we added up everyones favorites. The key part there was making sure we didn't mix up the glasses because the bartender kept track of which was which for us.

I don't have many bars with that much selection here but it would be fun to try again, who knows maybe in a couple weeks in Victoria.

Len
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jan 09, 2007 8:53 pm

Don't recall any good whisky bars in Victoria, Len, but then again I wasn't looking--you'll get your fill at the festival. I find that after an evening of tasting, I'm dying for a beer, and there are a couple of good brewpubs nearby.

See you there!
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jan 09, 2007 8:54 pm

I could never really wrap my taste buds around the Laga 16y.
There's just something about it that I don't care for.

But I love all the other Islays.
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Postby lexvo » Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:17 pm

lbacha wrote:When I was in the Netherlands the bar I went to had a selection of about 300 whiskies so me and a couple other guys would give the bartender a list of 10-15 whiskies to pour and have him throw a couple of his own choise in. We would then taste them all and rate them and then try to guess what they were. It was alot of fun and getting even a couple right was always nice. We would go for themes like sherried or peaty so it was a little trickier. It was neat to see what won and what didn't after we added up everyones favorites. The key part there was making sure we didn't mix up the glasses because the bartender kept track of which was which for us.

I don't have many bars with that much selection here but it would be fun to try again, who knows maybe in a couple weeks in Victoria.

Len


Can you tell me what bar that was? :)
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Postby Rocketmann » Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:10 pm

I'm kind of an Islay junkie and I like both Ardbeg and Lagavulin. I agree with the posters that have said that Laga is a little smoother and more complex. The Ardbeg has that awesome bite and smoke that makes these cold Iowa winters bearable. I've found it a personal must to have a bottle of each on hand at home.
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Postby lbacha » Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:40 pm

lexvo wrote:
lbacha wrote:When I was in the Netherlands the bar I went to had a selection of about 300 whiskies so me and a couple other guys would give the bartender a list of 10-15 whiskies to pour and have him throw a couple of his own choise in. We would then taste them all and rate them and then try to guess what they were. It was alot of fun and getting even a couple right was always nice. We would go for themes like sherried or peaty so it was a little trickier. It was neat to see what won and what didn't after we added up everyones favorites. The key part there was making sure we didn't mix up the glasses because the bartender kept track of which was which for us.

I don't have many bars with that much selection here but it would be fun to try again, who knows maybe in a couple weeks in Victoria.

Len


Can you tell me what bar that was? :)


It is called Clancy's in the town Tilburg it is down the street that the Mercure hotel is across from.

The actual whisky bar is called The Three Swallows if you stop in ask for Frank he is the owner, very knowledgeble, and tell him Len from the US sais hello.

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