After the Laphroaig Quarter Cask, I had a dram of the Lagavulin 16. This may be the best-aged Islay I have ever tasted. Each other Islay I have tried was either a 10 (Ardbeg, Laphroaig) or a 12 (Bowmore, Caol Ila). Other scotch from the islands were in the same league with respect to age (Talisker 10, Jura 10). The only two exceptions were the abysmal Trader Joe's Bowmore 18, which tastes watered down and nowhere near 18 years old, and the Laphroaig 15, which is solid, but still prickly.
Immediately upon nosing the Lagavulin, the smell of oak emerged; this is rare in an islay, where the smell of peat usually overtakes any other smell. Upon taking a sip, the complexity of flavors surprised me. An Islay with more to offer than a handful of peat? Yes, Scotchytime fans. I did not taste the "bite" to which I referred in my previous post regarding Laphroaig. As its label declares, Lagavulin "Takes out the fire but leaves in the warmth." Well done, Lagavulin. If you are a diehard peat fan, you may favor more of the direct approach, with a Talisker 10 or an Ardbeg 10. But if you seek a more subtle peat flavor with a pronounced oak taste, the Lagavulin is your scotch. However, the cost (over $60), may keep a casual scotchyfan from this gem.