Lagavulin Distillery (official site) is situated on Lagavulin Bay, Scotland, and is said to be one of the oldest distilleries of the Islay Islands that was one of 10 smaller, illegal distilleries dating back to 1742. It took 74 years, but a local farmer named John Johnston founded the first legal distillery. While the name of the distillery has changed numerous times, the flavors of peat and smoke in this liquid gold have remained the same.
If you have never tasted Lagavulin, you’re really missing out on an amazing malt scotch. Smoke is the pervading flavor–so think of a bonfire with nautical hints of salt from the very ocean it is distilled on. Drinking this scotch whisky is an experience and something that shouldn’t be rushed or taken for granted–just ask many of its celebrity fans like Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation fame–or check out its numerous gold medals for taste.
If you’re intrigued about Lagavulin Scotch, you’ve come to the right place. I have some interesting facts about this iconic brand and I’ll break down Which is the Most Popular Scotch They Make?
Facts About Lagavulin
Lagavulin has over 200 years of history and numerous awards for its products. It has become a runaway success in the scotch world and the distillery operates 24/7 to keep up with the global demand for their products. It’s obvious that Lagavulin is here to stay!
But what makes it such an iconic drink? Well, let’s look at these facts:
#1: They Only Produce Five Varieties
Lagavulin isn’t one of those brands that produce a huge number of varieties. They like to focus on what they do and they do it extremely well, producing only five varieties of scotch, which include Lagavulin Distillers Edition, Lagavulin 16, Lagavulin 1991, and 8- and 25-year old whiskies.
#2: It’s Extremely Popular in San Francisco
When it comes to competitions, especially those in San Francisco, Lagavulin comes out on top. In 2017, the 16-year Lagavulin Scotch won Best Distiller’s Single Malt and a double gold medal–meaning that it received unanimous gold medal scores from all judges. The 16-year Lagavulin won four consecutive double gold medals between 2005-2008.
That’s a lot of hardware for one whiskey company!
#3: The World’s Largest Whiskey Collection Contains A LOT of Lagavulin
In December 2017, the Glenesk Hotel in Angus, Scotland broke the world record for the largest whiskey collection with 2,500 bottles. 1,031 of these bottles are on the official hotel docket, while the remaining 1,449 bottles belong to the owner’s private collection.
The most expensive bottle of whiskey that those lucky folks get to drink is the Lagavulin 25 which retails for approximately $345 per dram.
#4: The Scotch Brand and Music Go Hand-in-Hand
Every year since 2011, Lagavulin has released a limited-edition whiskey in conjunction with the Islay Jazz Festival. Lagavulin is an official sponsor of the festival and only releases a very small amount of these special tie-in bottles (i.e. 6,000).
#5: No Signs Of Stopping
Lagavulin isn’t going anywhere and they proved this during their 200th anniversary. Intended for only a limited release, Lagavulin put out a special 8-year whiskey to honor Alfred Barnard, England’s first and most famous whiskey writer.
The story goes that Barnard had sampled some 8-year Lagavulin on a trip to Islay in the 1880s, describing it as “exceptionally fine” and he “held it in high repute”.
Because of the popularity of the 8-year variety, Lagavulin decided to keep producing that particular whiskey.
Bonus Fact: The Brand Has Appeared in Literature
Fans of Stieg Larsson’s books might recognize Lagavulin from his book The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Lisbeth Salander, the main character, is sipping Lagavulin while in Gibraltar, but once she gets a taste, she pushes it away, describing it as “resembling pitch”.
Everyone’s a critic!
The Most Popular Lagavulin Scotch
Of the few varieties of Lagavulin that are made, there are three that come out on top as the most popular among scotch fans. The first is Lagavulin 16.
Lagavulin 16 is a single-malt scotch that is aged a minimum of 16 years in oak barrels, giving it a gorgeous amber hue. The flavors of Lagavulin 16 are both rich and dry with the strong taste of peat, the sea, and wood smoke pervading it. This can be quite intense for some drinkers, so if you’re not ready for something this strong, Lagavulin 16 might not be for you.
The next variety of Lagavulin is Lagavulin 9: House Lannister. Again, this is a single-malt whiskey that is aged nine years and is inspired by the ultra-popular Game of Thrones. This Lagavulin is lighter in color and also comes with the typical smoke and nautical flavors, however, you will also taste orange, clove, berry compote, vanilla, and spices.
Lagavulin 9: House Lannister is once again strong and maybe a turnoff for some whiskey drinkers, however, it is a great drink and a great presentation for Game of Thrones fans. (shown below)
The final variety is the most popular and it’s called Lagavulin 8 and is the variety that commemorates the bicentenary of Lagavulin. Lagavulin 8 has 48% ABV and is matured for eight years in American and European oak barrels. It is a limited edition and highly sought after by those “in the know” about whiskies.
This product has similar peat, smoke, and sea flavors with hints of dark chocolate and mint. The only real negative about Lagavulin 8 is that it can produce an intense hangover, but if you don’t go too crazy, this is a delicious delicacy.
Final Thoughts on Lagavulin Scotch
Lagavulin scotch is an amazing whiskey that only the luckiest get to experience. Pricey, hard to find at times, but totally worth the hunt, Lagavulin scotch is a complete experience for those that know how to experience their whiskey. Remember, whiskey does go bad at some point, so be sure to drink it within a reasonable time after opening the bottle.
If you like to try new spirits or you’re an experienced scotch drinker looking for your next favorite, consider Lagavulin and one of the most popular scotches they make: Lagavulin 16, Lagavulin 9: House Lannister, or Lagavulin 8. You won’t be disappointed!