Lagavulin distillery is located on the south shore of Islay at Port Ellen and is a direct neighbour to the Ardbeg and Laphroaig distilleries.

It was founded by John Johnston in 1816 (just one year after its two neighbours).

I believe another distillery was built right alongside Lagavulin a year later in 1817 by Archibald Campbell, which was called Ardmore (yes, really). Anyway, in 1825 he took over Ardmore and in 1835 closed it, leaving only Lagavulin running on the site.


Distillery photo  by Whisky Emporium photography


More great distillery info here thanks to Malt Madness


John Graham took over Lagavulin in 1852 and it was then passed into the hands of James Logan Mackie & Co. in 1867. 1878 saw Peter Mackie (nephew to James) join the distillery and when James died in 1889, Peter took over the running of Lagavulin.

In 1890 Peter founded White Horse blended whisky and then in 1908 he tried to get one over on Laphroaig by commissioning two new stills which were supposedly exact replicas of those at neighbouring Laphroaig distillery. He named this Malt Mill distillery but this was finally dismantled in 1962.

DCL took over Lagavulin in 1927, then transferred it to SMD in 1930 (DCL & SMD eventually becoming Diageo, the owners today) and in 1962, when Malt Mill was finally dismantled, they fully renovated Lagavulin.



  OB Ages   General whisky characteristics: Peat, smoke, sea-air, smoked kippers & fruit  

Lagavulin, 8y, 48% ABV

Limited Edition for 200th Anniversary

Original cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Extremely pale and watery

Nose: Warming with suggestions of smoky bonfire embers, cereal, a faint fruitiness and a mild fishiness.

Palate: Now this is much more fruity than the nose with hints of summer berries followed by smokiness and that (now) very mild fishiness.

Finish: Long with peat, smoke and cereal then more smokiness right at the end.

Overall Impression: Very good but yes it does have some definite traits of a young whisky.





Lagavulin, 16y, 43% ABV

Original cost of this bottle;


Glass: Spiegelau

Colour: Rich, dark gold

Nose: Very heavy, I'm stuck in a peat bog on Islay right alongside the Atlantic and steadily sinking whilst someone throws smoked kippers (herring) at me and I only have an old leather strap to fend them off.

Palate: Extremely smooth and gently opening to very peaty embers which warm the tongue in a quite sweet and almost fruity way.

With 4 drops of water in 2cl: The nose remains much the same but the palate has more immediate peat & smoke and the fruit comes much later.

Finish: Medium to long, peaty, smoky and very warming. Longer with the 4 drops of water.

Overall Impression: For some reason I can't remember I never used to get along with Lagavulin 16, but after an absence of some years this was a pleasant surprise today and one which I shall explore further. A real Winter warmer!





Lagavulin, 16y, 43% ABV

Original cost of this bottle;

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich golden amber

Nose: Immediate wood with hints of traditional wax furniture polish. This expands to a slightly toasted version after 2-3 minutes, then hints of junior school plimsoles (gym shoes). Overall very warm and soothing.

Palate: Very creamy mouth-feel with faint wood and fruity smoke. Always soothing and gentle. Do I detect a sherry influence with some figs?

Finish: Long rich and smooth

Overall Impression: Excellent! An extremely drinkable whisky.






Lagavulin, 16y, 43% ABV

Original cost of this bottle;

Sample thanks to MMA 2016


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Oak with a faint tinge of orange.

Nose: Mild peatiness alongside a rich fruitiness which reminds me of black or red currants. There's also a freshness which is almost menthol. In a previous review of the 16y I said that the nose reminded me of plimsoles (school gym shoes) which happened again here but only for a fleeting few seconds then the aromas dispersed and left that freshness.

Palate: Warming with a fruitiness that now suggests raisins or maybe even figs. There's also a mild peatiness ever present.

Finish: Long with a gentle and faint hint of ginger.

Overall Impression: Good whisky which is still superb value for money.





Lagavulin, 25y, 51.7% ABV

Limited Edition for 200th Anniversary

Bottle 7969 of 8000

Original cost of this bottle;

Sample thanks to MMA 2016


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light amber

Nose: Lots of sherry influence here with furniture polish and dark fruitiness then wood and damp leafy grassiness.

Palate: Smooth and creamy mouth-feel as it spreads across the palate followed by a hint of (black) peppery brandy snap and then the fruitiness of figs or prunes, maybe both?

Finish: Long with that dark fruitiness.

Overall Impression: For once a non-smoky Lagavulin which is probably due to the lovely age but it's still a truly delightful dram.





  OB 12y Cask Strength      

Lagavulin, Limited Edition 12y, 56.5% ABV

Bottled 2010, Natural Cask Strength

Original cost of this bottle;

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Very pale

Nose: Atlantic coastal freshness, but becoming more earthy with time in glass. A solid peatiness then gently unfolds as the minutes pass, eventually becoming slightly antiseptic. The peat then just keeps expanding.

Palate: Warming peat, very warming. A very welcome and solid earthiness with lots of depth. I'm almost imagining swimming in an Atlantic peaty lido!

Finish: Long, warming and glowing

Overall Impression: Excellent, truly excellent. In fact it was almost awarded 'Greatness', but just not quite.





Lagavulin, Limited Edition 12y, 54.4% ABV

Bottled 2014, Natural Cask Strength

Original cost of this bottle;

Sample thanks to MMA 2016


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Very pale, almost as watery as 8y bottling

Nose: Very fresh with lots of smoky fruitiness suggesting green apple & pear. Also a faint fishiness reminding me of an Atlantic fishing port.

Palate: Again lots of smoky fruitiness but now it has a creamier and smoother mouth-feel and is more like peach or papaya.

With 4 drops of water: All the smokiness has now left the nose leaving it fresh and fruity. The palate still has some smokiness but it's much more intensely fruity.

Finish: Long, fruity and mildly smoky but much more intensely fruity with water.

Overall Impression: To water or not to water? This one is very good either way.




  OB Distiller's Editions      

Lagavulin, Distiller's Edition 1993, 43% ABV

Original cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich old oak, dark amber

Nose: If you could imagine an orchard in the middle of a peat bog right on the Atlantic coast! Heavy peat with almost no (wood) smoke. Hints of sea-air with an underlying fruitiness.

Palate: Rich toasted fruit and peat in an almost perfect combination. The fruit is almost summer fruit, as in apricot and peach with a hint of citrus, but totally overwhelmed by that wonderfully rich peat.

Finish: Long with a warming ricness of flavour and right on the front of the tongue.

Overall Impression: I could really get used to this and become a fan! Excellent.





Lagavulin, Distiller's Edition 1993, 43% ABV

Distilled 1993, bottled 2009

Original cost of this bottle;

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Glowing amber

Nose: An initial explosion of peat settles to find some rich fruitiness and then opens further with glowing bonfire embers on an Atlantic coastal beach. In fact this finally settles to an Atlantic beach BBQ!

Palate: There's definitely plenty of fruit including peach, watermelon and raisins alongside the peaty beach bonfire.

Finish: Long, peaty and fruity but slightly thin.

Overall Impression: Very enjoyable. A thoroughly good whisky.




  OB Feis Ile      

Lagavulin, Feis Ile 2014, 54.7% ABV

Distilled 31.1.1995, bottled 2014, bottle No.1645

Original cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Oak

Nose: Fresh and fruity with suggestions of summer berries alongside a mild smokiness and hints of freshly cut wood or even damp sawdust.

Palate: Initially a peppery tingle spreads across the palate followed by a lovely fruitiness which suggests peach or perhaps even mango. There's also a creaminess akin to custard or vanilla sauce.

Finish: Long with a creamy fruitiness.

Overall Impression: A quite different Lagavulin but totally enjoyable.




Independent Bottlers (IB)


The Whisky Exchange "Lg1", 56.8% ABV

Original cost of this bottle;

"Dram-atics" live review


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Very pale yellow

Nose: This is an initially subdued nose which requires some time to develop, but after 5-10 minutes it produces aromatic peat, freshly cut wood and a hint of rubber.

Palate: There's lots of peat here, but too much alcohol burn and it needs water.

With 4 drops of water: Both wood and peat are intensified on nose and palate.

With 4 more drops: Some lovely Atlantic maritime elements now join the wood and peat.

A further 4 drops: allow liquorice to develop on the palate and into the finish.

Finish: Long and intense with liquorice after addition of water.

Overall Impression: This is a whisky which needs time, water and patience but when afforded these, it rewards accordingly. A fine whisky.












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