Lagavulin is oft times an intrepid whisky explorers' first dive into the peaty world of Islay malts. Situated on Lagavulin Bay only a mile down the road from Ardbeg, the distillery has been in operation since 1816 and just celebrated its 200th anniversary. The 16 year old is well regarded as a classic whisky that everyone should own a bottle of. So, let's make sure it's added to our liquid library of reviews...
Nose: Immediate rich and sweet peat, but balanced cleverly with just enough fresh fruit notes to keep it clean and welcoming. High levels of salinity combine with a good punch of wood spices and pencil shavings. A classic Islay nose indeed.
Taste: Peat! In no surprise to anyone, this is a powerful arrival of aggressive peat. The sweet sherry comes across immediately, though is less pronounced than on the nose. Really drying on the palate with coastal notes of seaweed, iodine, and a grassy oiliness. Big mouthfeel coming from this oiliness. Tooth coating. Almost tannic in nature.
Finish: Long and lingering wood spice and a slight returning sweetness lighten this dram up and prevent us falling down a never-ending peat whirlpool. We're rescued. But frankly, we're ready to dive straight back into it again.
We expected nothing less than a totally solid classic Islay-profile dram. That's precisely what we got. Perhaps a little more drying then I remember it from times gone by, but to have this much peat attack and yet to retain balance and poise is truly commendable. Quick food pairing tip: All peaty whisky is probably going to play nicely with chocolate, but Lagavulin 16 and some high % dark chocolate are pretty much BFF.