[Review] Lagavulin - 16 years old 43%

As I received a call yesterday telling me my Lagavulin 8 year-old 200th anniversary was ready for collection at the Whisky shop Manchester, I thought it was time I reviewed my bottle of 16 year old Lagavulin. The Lagavulin 16 is one of these bottles I had heard and read a lot about even before getting properly into whisky. So I decided to get myself one a few months ago to see if all the talks around it being one of the benchmarks as far as peaty single malts are concerned, were justified.
I remember opening it and having a bit of an "Amelie Poulain" moment (French mega-successful film!). By that, I mean that I had heard so much about it, when I actually got to try it, it just didn't blow my mind as I was expecting. But like with the film, the more I get back to it, the more I enjoy it. And having just poured myself a dram, it continues to be true! It is definitely a rich and complex dram in my mind for which you need to be in the right frame of mind. As much as I like peaty whiskies, particularly stronger ones, I have always found that sometimes I am ready for one and will really enjoy it when other times, I will really not be in the mood for one. That is the case in my mind for malts like Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin even Kilchoman. However, I would say the same about any strong-flavoured whisky (Aberlour A'bunadh comes to mind for instance).
The Lagavulin range is rather limited but works well. The 16 is your "standard" dram, you then move up to the Distiller's edition (finished in Pedro Ximénez sherry cask) which is an incredibly enjoyable dram and you finish with the more limited 12 year-old bottled at cask strength. To celebrate their 200th anniversary, Lagavulin have released an 8 year-old bottling, which I mentioned before. I think I will try to get hold of a second bottle to open one and keep one. Fingers crossed, I could have it on the maltcask some time soon!

Lagavulin belongs to the Diageo group and I must say I like the fact that they do seem to care about the time their whiskies spend in their cask and only bottle them when they are ready, which gives an unusual range of age-statement: Lagavulin 16, Dalwhinnie 15, Clynelish 14, Caol Ila 12, Talisker 10 just to name a few. The Lagavulin 16 is bottled at 43% and unfortunately, it doesn't state anywhere on the bottle that it is not unchillfiltered or natural colour...

Nose: Rich, earthy and sweet. Some peat of course, salt, smoke, seaweed and licorice.

Palate: Like with the nose, I get some rich flavours, smoky peat, sweet spices, licorice again, some vanilla and sherry notes too.

Finish: Rather long and spicy, persisting notes of sherried peat, some sweetness too with vanilla notes

With water: the nose becomes lighter and sweeter with more vanilla, the palate and finish are both sweeter too with more toffeed peat.

As I said before, the more I drink it and the more I enjoy this Lagavulin 16, and that is one of the reason why I do not want to give marks to the whiskies I review because I think it is way too subjective and could change from one day to the other depending on my mood, the food I had (even if most of the time I will pour a whisky before eating anything to be sure no previous flavours affect my taste), how long the bottle has been opened for... All I can tell you is that I will now definitely consider replacing my bottle when it is empty as I have managed to finally get what so many people see in this single malt. So happy 200th anniversary to Lagavulin! Here is to 200 more years! Slàinte!


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