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Lagavulin Whisky from the Islay is one of the most recognized single malts around, known for its smoky, peaty and salty notes that are influenced by its environment.
Many agree that the peat and smoke-filled flavour profile of Lagavulin Whisky is an acquired taste. Appreciating it usually takes some practice and you shouldn’t be afraid to dilute it with a few drops of water to let the aromas develop fully. This challenging character is one of the reasons that Lagavulin has built a strong following around the world – in the words of the Distillery Manager Georgie Crawford: “…when you do get to a place where you have tamed it, you feel you have achieved something great, and it will just keep giving you great pleasure then!”
The standard Lagavulin single malt is 16 years old (43%), though they regularly release a 12-year-old cask strength variety, a Distiller's edition finished in Pedro Ximénez casks, and 25- and 30-year-old varieties.
Lagavulin is produced by United Distillers & Vintners, which in turn is owned by Diageo plc. It is marketed under their Classic Malts brand. The name of Lagavulin is an anglicization of the Gaelic lag a'mhuilin, meaning "hollow by the mill".
Lagavulin Distillery is located in the Kildalton area of the isle of Islay, in the small Lagavulin Bay. Standing right on the shore, it has a wooden pier extending into the sea that used to serve as a docking for ships bringing supplies in the bay and leaving with Whisky.
There are records that refer to production in Lagavulin, of significant enough volume to be written about, back in 1742. It is believed that distillation and the production of water of life, was done by monks in this area of Islay, as far back as the 14th century, with some of that taking place at Dunyvaig castle in Lagavulin Bay.
Lagavulin Distillery was legalised in 1816 by John Johnston, but it was the Mackie family, who entered the business in 1850, that influenced Lagavulin the most and made it one of the larger Islay distilleries.
Peter Mackie, who was the head of the distillery for close to 50 years, was known as “restless Peter” among the employees, for he was never short of something new to do and liked to say that “nothing is impossible.”
At Lagavulin Distillery, barley is dried over peat fire and Whisky is aged in ex-Bourbon and Sherry casks, while being exposed to the influences of the sea. As a result, Lagavulin malts have complex character, where peaty and salty notes combine with the Sherry sweetness.