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A bottle of Lagavulin 16 Year Old

Lagavulin 16-year-old single malt whisky review

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Looking for a gift for the whisky geek in your life? Lagavulin’s 16-year-old expression might be just the present. Find out how it fared in our taste test.

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Lagavulin 16-year-old – 43% ABV

Overall rating: 5/5

Founded over 200 years ago and indelibly etched into whisky folklore, the Lagavulin distillery is on the Isle of Islay which is known for its heavily peated whiskies. Those deep smoky notes are in evidence here, the whisky having been aged in oak barrels for at least 16 years. While it's a bestselling bottle, it is not for the faint of heart, adored by those who have acquired a taste for it.

It is dry, full-bodied and intimidatingly full on the nose, shrouded with the scent of lapsang souchong, tobacco, iodine, vanilla and sherry spice. Many enjoy their Lagavulin 16 with water, to take the edges off and open up the labyrinth of flavours that have built up over the maturation period. On the palate, it has a tar-like thickness that forces you to savour and analyse each drop, allowing you to pick up deep oak and a mature fruitiness that extends from the sherry scent. The finish is enduring, marrying spice with dried dark fruits and welcome dashes of pepper.

Lagavulin 16 is a Marmite dram – not for those finding their feet in whisky. The reasons many love it are the same reasons some hate it; it is deep, intimidating and gritty. And for some, absolutely nothing else will do.

An interesting tidbit about Lagavulin 16: actor Nick Offerman is such a fan of the whisky it became a trait of his character, Ron Swanson, in the sitcom Parks and Recreation. He even starred in an epic Lagavulin advert that sees him do nothing but sit quietly in front of a fire for 45 minutes drinking the stuff.

Makes the perfect whisky gift for...

...the whisky nut in your life. Also, perhaps for a Parks and Rec fan. If you've ever been shown a compilation of Ron Swanson's most cynical moments, this is the bottle for them.

Discover over 400 buyer's guides including the best whiskies to buy as gifts, or more reviews like our favourite rye whiskey in our reviews section.

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This review was last updated in October 2019. If you have any questions or suggestions for future reviews, or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at For information on alcohol guidelines, read our guide to drinking responsibly.


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