Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Review
86 Proof, 16 year old Islay Single Malt Scotch
$40 plus for 750ml (Update: $40 was a misprint...we meant to type $100 plus. But what's $60 more for good scotch, right?)
Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits
Initial Thoughts: We've said it multiple times that all scotch tastes the same to us, and it just so happens that we like that taste, but we had an experience last week that made us eat our words. After dining in a local pub, we asked our server to bring us a scotch we'd never tried before and he instantly perked up. He said he had one variety he liked so much he bought a bottle for the bar because he felt so strongly that they should stock it. He brought it to us, and we couldn't understand what he said when he told us the name. After some back and forth we turned on our hearing aids and realized he was saying "Lagavulin."
We took one whiff and we were instantly in love with the stuff before even taking a drink. Lagavulin is an Islay scotch, a region known for creating peaty whisky, but this stuff had a deep peat smell the likes of which we'd never experienced, and a rich amber color. Between the two, we were given the warm feeling of a campfire. The taste was a combination of sweetness and smoke, and very rugged, sticking around long after we swallowed. We made our server write down the name for us so we could use it for our first scotch review.
Cocktail Recipes: Bite your tongue!
Finishing Thoughts: We'd never had an Islay whisky before, but we've read about it and we're familiar with names like Laphroaig, another scotch from the region. And while we loved Lagavulin, we're scotch novices, so we got in contact with Kevin Erskine, the man who wrote the book on single malt scotch. He was kind enough to share a few thoughts with us, which we've included below:
There has long been a religious war of sorts between fans of Lagavulin vs. Laphroaig, though the discussion is much like the Coke versus Pepsi debate -most people couldn't tell the difference between the two in a blind taste test. As a result either can be considered to be a definitive Islay malt. For example Michael Jackon gives Lagavulin higher points, while Jim Murray gives a slight edge to Laphroaig.
That being said The Lagavulin IS excellent - garnering 99 points from the Beverage Tasting institute, 97 points from Wine Spectator and 95 points from Michael Jackson. This is a whisky to work your way up to. The peat can overwhelm the average palate, and the finish is smoky and sustained. It's been said so much, it's almost a cliche - Lagavulin is an acquired taste, people either love it or hate it.
Well, we're novices and we loved it. Kevin also went on to note that there is a shortage of the Lagavulin, which we assume contributes to higher prices and could make it tough to find. But if you do find it, especially in a bar where you can order by the glass, we recommend you give it a try.
For a plethora of information about a wide variety of scotch whiskies, visit Kevin's site, The Scotch Blog.
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Posted by Jake Jamieson at November 4, 2005 5:13 AM