Cardinal is our sin. Our faces are blushing. It’s unforgiveable the absence of the “King of single malts” on this website. Yes, the bottle that so often works as a revelation on the road to Damascus (or to Islay, it’s more correct). Yes, the peated malt that every whisky lover can’t help but worship: the Lagavulin 16 yo, the only expression permanently in the core range with the annual releases 12 yo and Distiller’s edition. Because to enter the History of Scotch sometimes one bottle is enough: you don’t need NAS, a huge amount of different aging or strange finishings in Tavernello wine’s boxes when you have the Quality. Anyway, after tasting the 12 yo White Horse from the ‘70’s, here we are again on the peaty land of Islay…
N: the sherry casks’ influence is predominant, even if it’s really balanced in a compact and well balanced profile. Great expressiveness and monolithic variety of suggestions. It’s a sticky whisky and if it’d be a painting it were definetely brown: it grafts in your nose with caramel notes, tamarind, glazed oranges, stewed prunes, dark fruits jam. Even bloody oranges’ peels. Pretty astonishing the peat, too: heavy, tarred and increased by an intense seaworthiness (parched seaweed). Even some juicy meat on the BBQ. And a bit of leather, too.
P: firm and immensely rich! Consistent with the nose, the sea is still here: the first sip is salty, indeed. Meanwhile, you can taste also a pronounced but elegant sweetness, echoing liquorice, stewed fruits (apples and prunes and strawberry jam). Oranges, chinotto, burnt caramel. The scorched notes keep going with a strong peat, recalling burnt wood and bacon. Again, a heavy, smoggy sensation.
F: sooo long. Salty and burnt, with majestic twists of caramel and citrus.
Remarkable complexity, excellent intensity, surprising balance: the Lagavulin 16 yo is simply the best peated single malt among the entry level bottles. Because this is the most impressive fact: this is an entry level whisky, that in a blind tasting wouldn’t have anything to envy to the more expensive and exotic expressions. We also appreciate the same consistency and coherence with its “grandfather”, the White Horse 12 yo from the 70’s. We bow to the Lord of Malts: 90/100 and probably we’ve been even too much sparing (for instance, the brave IBR is more munificent; but take a look at Serge’s judgment, too…).
Recommended soundtrack: Deep Purple – Child in time.