Updated 20 September 2020

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Lagavulin Distillery – Offerman Approved

Two and a half miles past the town of Port Ellen, nestled in the stony heather-covered hills, you'll discover one of Islay's oldest distillation sites, the picturesque Lagavulin Distillery. Situated on the shores of Lagavulin Bay, and the middle child of Islay's south-side-of-the-island trio, Lagavulin Distillery is a 15-20 min walk (1.2mi) past Laphroaig and a further 15-20 min walk (1.2mi) from Ardbeg.

Lagavulin whisky distillery, Isle of Islay, on the shores of Lagavulin Bay. This picture was taken from Dunyvaig Castle, an ancient strong-hold and naval base of Clan MacDonald, and a short walk from the distillery.

How to Pronounce Lagavulin

How to pronounce Lagavulin, courtesy of Brian Cox ...

"Lagavulin; the cognac of whiskies. Works like a depth charge ... pow." - Brian Cox via @Esquire

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Lagavulin Whisky

While generally not as iodine-intense as its neighbouring distilleries Laphroaig and Ardbeg, the flavours of Lagavulin Whisky still pack a punch on the palate. "It's like drinking a campfire," says Nick Offerman when describing the Lagavulin 16. The smooth, rich smokiness of a Lagavulin whisky is likened to 'a depth charge' by Brian Cox, and is considered "mothers milk" by some (myself included).

Highly Recommended
Lagavulin 16 Year Old

Per David Broom for Whisky Advocate "Lagavulin is a classic example of how smoke isn't a blunt instrument that covers everything in a fog, but an element that works with all the flavours produced in distillation and maturation." Lagavulin 16 is a dram I consider a 'gateway whisky' for those who are new to peat - it's sweet, rich and warming. The peat is more reminiscent of an open fire on a cold day than a smoke filled kick to the head; it lacks the raw medicinal qualities of nearby Ardbeg and Laphroaig. Lagavulin 16 pairs exceptionally well with caramel or chocolate desserts, and it is definitely one of my go-to drams.

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Purple toned black and white photograph of the tasting room and library at Lagavulin Distillery.

Lagavulin Whisky at Lagavulin Distillery. From Left to Right, bottles and boxes of: Lagavulin 16, Lagavulin Distillers Edition, Lagavulin 12 and Lagavulin 8.

Ron Swanson / Nick Offerman & Lagavulin Whisky

Whether you're a fan of the TV programme 'Parks and Recreation' or not, if you're a fan of Lagavulin, there's a good chance you've seen Nick Offerman (or his Park's character Ron Swanson) espousing his joy for Lagavulin whisky. Diageo paired up with Nick for a series of on-brand/on-character promotions for Lagavulin that showcase the distillery and the whisky beautifully. My favourite is "Yule Log", a 45-minute video of Nick Offerman sitting in a cosy leather armchair, occasionally taking a sip of Lagavulin as the fire crackles beside him. It's not exactly edge of your seat entertainment, but I love its simplicity. It would make an excellent screen saver. If you'd like to see the key highlights rather than watch the full 45 minutes, there's a play by play in the first comment on youtube.

The series includes some excellent footage of Lagavulin Distillery, such as in the episode 'Message in a Bottle' (one method of acquiring Lagavulin Whisky).

Where is Lagavulin Distillery?

Lagavulin Distillery is located in the wee village of Lagavulin (it pretty much IS the village of Lagavulin), on the beautiful Isle of Islay, 2.6 miles from the Port Ellen Ferry Terminal.

Lagavulin Distillery Tours, Pricing & Bookings

Following Scottish Government guidelines through their phased re-opening approach, Lagavulin are re-opening to visitors for tastings (not tours yet). Advanced booking is essential. Bookings can be made directly with the visitor centre team by phoning 01496 302749 or emailing lagavulin@malts.com.

LAGAVULIN TASTING EXPERIENCE

£15 - 45 mins - tutored tasting of four whiskies.

LAGAVULIN DISTILLERY EXCLUSIVE EXPERIENCE

£90 - 90 mins - an elevated whisky experience. Tasting of three Lagavulin Distillery exclusive bottlings, and you will get to take home your own hand-filled 200 ml bottle of single cask Lagavulin.

WAREHOUSE EXPERIENCE

£35 - 60 mins - sample the maturation process of Lagavulin spirit and a enjoy a complimentary glass to take home.

To ensure the health and wellbeing of Lagavulin employees and visitors, the distillery will be implementing a number of precautionary measures which include temperature checks before entering, limiting the number of visitors on site at any one time, increased cleaning procedures and hand sanitiser stations. For more information see Distillery Safety Requirements during COVID-19.

Lagavulin Distillery Images

Lagavulin Distillery, Islay, Scotland. Golden toned black and white photograph.

Purple toned photograph of the Lagavulin Visitor Centre Branded Merchandise/Gift Room

Lagavulin's Porteus Patent Malt Mill, Machine No. MM-RB-15, Date: 16-3-1963. Maintained by Ronnie Lee

Lagavulin's Porteus Patent Malt Mill, Machine No. MM-RB-15, Date: 16-3-1963. Maintained by Ronnie Lee

Lagavulin's Porteus Patent Malt Mill, Machine No. MM-RB-15, Date: 16-3-1963. Maintained by Ronnie Lee

Purple toned photograph of the Lagavulin Distillery Mash Tun

Malted barley, ground into grist, then addd to hot water in the Mash Tun at Lagavulin Distillery.

Six of the ten washbacks at Lagavulin Distillery, Islay, Scotland. Soft colour photograph.

Six of the ten washbacks at Lagavulin Distillery, Islay, Scotland. Golden toned soft colour photograph.

Lagavulin Distillery Wash Stills. They measure almost 7m in height. 10,800 litres of wort/wash is used to charge each wash stills per cycle. The charge for the wash stills less than that for the spirit stills (typically it's the other way around).

Lagavulin Distillery's Pear-Shaped Wash Stills. They measure almost 7m in height. 10,800 litres of wort/wash is used to charge each wash stills per cycle. The charge for the wash stills less than that for the spirit stills (typically it's the other way around)

Lagavulin Distillery Wash Stills. They measure almost 7m in height. 10,800 litres of wort/wash is used to charge each wash stills per cycle. The charge for the wash stills less than that for the spirit stills (typically it's the other way around).

The pear shaped spirit stills at Lagavulin Distillery

Lagavulin Distillery No. 2 Spirits and Feints Bowl.

Lagavulin Distillery No. 1 Spirits and Feints Bowl.

The Lagavulin Spirit Safe Low Wines/Wash Still Bowls.

Sepia toned black and white photograph of Lagavulin Distillery, Islay, Scotland. Photograph which shows the front of the distillery, the Lagavulin sign and the post box. 

What Else Is Nearby

Accommodation

There are a small number of hotel options near Lagavulin, specifically in Port Ellen, one of the main towns on Islay, though you'll find the broadest accommodation selection via Airbnb. Port Ellen is easy to get around on foot, and there are several restaurants and cafes. There is also a supermarket and a post office, which makes it a convenient location for families or those reliant on public transport. Lagavulin Distillery is 2.6 miles/4.2 km from Port Ellen, and there is a wide asphalted footpath, should you wish to walk or cycle to the distillery.

Airbnb
Lower Flat, 10 Charlotte Street, Port Ellen
from £77.00/ night

This wee flat is in the heart of Port Ellen so has easy access to shops, restaurants, hotels, bus stops and the ferry terminal.

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References & Further Reading

About the author

Amanda

Amanda is an Australian-born photographer, digital nomad and whisky lover. Her passion for travel and whisky lead her to Islay, where she fell in love with an Ileach (an Islay native). Amanda and Roddy now share their Spirited Adventures.

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