Lagavulin 16-year-old Islay Single Malt Whisky 750ml (Elsewhere $100)
**Best Buy** Soy sauce, olive brine, peat, honey, oloroso Sherry, brewer’s yeast, bread dough, barley malt and cigar smoke in the bouquet. The flavor that magically includes the innate intense peatiness of Islay malts and the masterly employment of oak barrels phase defines “classy Islay.” Concludes sweetly, without sacrificing the tangy, astringent peatiness that is inherent. Gorgeous.
An old classic, but how do the newest bottlings fare? Rich, chewy, slightly oily texture. Deep peat, thick smoke, iodine, brine, charcoal, seaweed, tea (Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong), and the aromas of a summer barbeque. Vanilla and light caramel soften the intensity, while subtle citrus fruit teases. Powerful, yet polished and seamless. After all these years, this whisky is still one of the finest standard-issue peaty, smoky whiskies! (Vol. 20, #3)
A fascinating turn on an essentially peaty Islay. The smoke offers a toasty element as it coyly introduces itself on the nose, with hard candy as a partner. The peat comes on with salt spray in the mouth, but once again gets quite candy sweet, with a bread dough core. On the finish the smoke fairly disappears for a while as you enjoy the delicate sweetness, masking the next wave of toast at the outer limits.
Lagavulin was established in 1830 and has the driest start of all single malts. Full amber in color, with a dominant sherry nose. Full-bodied yet smooth. The dryness is offset by the sweetness of the sherry character. Salty notes and a huge powerful peaty finish. A connoisseur's malt, and with consistently high marks from late critic Michael Jackson.