Here are my notes from Lagavulin.
This was one of my first whiskies I ever bought older than 12yrs. In addition, it was the first bottle for which I paid $80 or more. I wanted a good example of an Islay, and after reading so much about this whisky (both online and in M. Jackson's book), I knew it was the one to get. I have nursed this bottle for nearly a year, and have enjoyed it over and over. I decided it was high-time to write a review of the whisky (before I finish it!), so here goes!
Nose: SMOKE! PEAT! Salty sea-spray. Warmth, and subtle hints of flora. This is the whisky that my wife says smells like FIRE! One night, I was drinking this wonderful dram and she starts asking if I smelled smoke (while looking around the house for a source of the inferno.) I say, "no, but I'm drinking a pretty powerful dram, so I probably can't smell anything." At this, she tells me to come closer and say something else. She found the source of the inferno...my breath! To say this whisky has an aroma is to say the Grand Canyon is a crack in the ground. In addition, if you're a bit stopped up, a good whiff of Laga 16 will open up those nostrils for sure.
M. Jackson stated: "More sherry", which I assume means he smelled a good bit of sherry in this whisky. I did not pick this up from the nose.
Body: heavy, rich, full-bodied whisky. I can almost CHEW on this dram! While I wouldn't call it smooth (although M. Jackson did), it is in fact delicious, which makes it easy to drink.
Palate: BIG PEAT and SMOKE. Building in intensity with the peppery spices. If your nostrils weren't sufficiently cleared by the aroma, they are now! There's more in there as well, but goodness if I can't discern it. I'm tasting apricots, marmalade, and spiced apples. The whisky isn't exactly sweet, but it has the hint of sweetness. The flavors are as though the sugar has been cooked out of it, but the base flavor remains. This monster has been meticulously balanced to deliver an incredibly WARM taste. I am sitting by the campfire, I have finished a wonderful spiced apple cobbler. The flavors are still on my tongue as I pull back on a maduro cigar. I am downwind, catching a face full of smoke (both from the fire and from the cigar). This whisky encapsulates this experience for me, which brings me to a place where happiness ensues. If you don't like campfires, smoking cigars, spiced apple cobbler, or whisky, then stay away from Lagavulin 16yr!
M. Jackson talks about the "sweetness of the sherry character," which I suppose was the flavor I was calling marmalade, apricot and apple cobbler!
Finish: The peat comes back, with some of the spiciness, as the dram warms the chest on its way down.
M. Jackson said this about the finish: "Huge, powerful, peaty, salty, embracing." I think that just about says it all.
I found the Laph 10yr to be much harsher, with a more robust smoke profile.
I liked it, and finished a bottle of it not too long ago.