Single malt whisky - tasting notes

13 Jan 2012

Lagavulin 16 years

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in Lagavulin

I’m suffering from a cold, so I’m digging up some notes of classic releases that somehow never made it to the blog.

Inspite of it’s fame, Lagavulin releases few expressions. Until 1989, Lagavulin was always bottled at 12 years. Nowadays, the 16 year-old is the only standard bottling. There’s also a 12 year-old and a double matured Distiller’s Edition which both change each year. Over the years, there have been a few limited editions as well (21y, 25y, 30y, Feis Ile single casks) but that’s about it. If you’re a collector, Lagavulin is a relatively easy distillery…

Lagavulin 16 years is the reason why many of us became interested in single malts in the first place. Like most Islay whiskies, it’s peated but in a different way than Laphroaig or Ardbeg. Lagavulin is – in my opinion – one of the warmer whiskies around. Apparently Johnny Depp (who doesn’t drink alcohol) sometimes orders a dram of this, just to sniff it.


Lagavulin 16y Lagavulin 16 yo (43%, OB 2007)

Nose: I’ve always found this to be the most complex and refined nose of the standard Islay malts. Very impressive, a bit rough yet balanced. Peaty with some iodine, antiseptic and fishy notes.  Gentle fruitiness (oranges). Earth. Pepper. Oil. Lapsang Souchong. Let’s just say it’s really rich. Mouth: evolves over time. Oily, grassy, smoky (yesterday’s ash tray), sweet and salty. A dynamic palate indeed. Hints of seaweed and liquorice. Finish: drier, on smoked bacon and walnuts. Some wood. Hints of shoe polish. Very long.

Totally lives up to its name! Every whisky enthusiast should have a bottle of this in his collection. Around € 45.

Score: 89/100.

Lagavulin 16 years 4 Ruben Luyten 2012-01-13
  • Mark Dermul

    Totally agree with your conclusion. This is one of the standards that should be in every cabinet at all times.

  • Sjoerd de Haan

    Indeed the richest standard Islay malt. Maybe even the best standard malt out there. One of my all time favorites, still. You don’t outgrow this!

  • Jan Dever

    I find it the best value for money bottle out there. It can easily blow away whiskies four times as expensive and be picked up at you local supermarket. But that leaves me with mixed feelings…

  • Luc

    “If you’re a collector, Lagavulin is a relatively easy distillery…” that is a bold statement. Indeed at first sight Lagavulin seems to be limited on number of releases but if you dig deeper you will find many different batches of the 12yo White Horse, many different batches of the Lagavulin 16yo (Port Ellen edition, White Horse edition, pré and post classic malts, etc…). And not to forget the impossible to find spring cap Lagavulin rotation 1958 or the 1966 Lagavulin (of which apparently only one bottle exists)…… believe me, every whiskycollection is vast if you want to have it complete…. But true, the 16yo is a classic, especially the pré-classic malt.

  • Foxboro

    It’s a very good idea to taste standard OA bottlings. So you could benchmark the UA bottlings with the OA.

  • Ruben

    You’re right of course, Luc. When going back in time, it’s hard to track down every single bottle, whatever the distillery. You would know :-)
    What I meant was that to collect Glenfarclas, Glendronach, BenRiach, Highland Park, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman… you already need a fortune just to keep up with the new releases.

  • Johan L

    It took me several years to like Lagavulin. Now, I’m a fan. This standard bottle has definitely a huge value for your money.
    My personal favorite Lagavulin is the 2010 ‘Available only at the distillery’ (better than the 21Y in my honest oppinion). What a dram!

  • Geert Bero

    Actually Luc there are two bottles of that OB 1966,one was given to the MD of Diageo ,the other one is at a London based collector.

    And indeed ,the 16Y is a stunner since years,and hopefully quality will stay like this for the next years.

  • http://. Glenn Jura

    One thing that says everything. :))))))))

  • Luc Timmermans

    @Johan : indeed that Distillery only release is a stunner.

  • I_SPEY

    T’m a Lagavulin nerd for almost 40 years now and hopefully for another 40 years 😉
    It was indeed my first love!

  • Jorgen

    Like Ruben mentioned in it’s “about WN”, it’s the reason he (we) drink ‘wikki’…
    Therefore, he/she/it *what’s the gender of Islay-based whisky? 😉 earns a place in that shrine…



November 2015
« Oct    

Coming up

  • Lindores 2015 festival bottling
  • Amrut 2009 (cask #2701)
  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1932 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.