Lagavulin 16 vs. Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Tonight, Joey and I tried two of our favorite whiskeys in the most consequential battle of whiskeys ever to grace the pages of  Indeed, Ardbeg’s Corryvreckan had won “Best in Show” at the LA Cocktail classic and so I bought a full bottle for my birthday.  Laguvulin 16 is an old favorite that has recently gone on sale at Costco, so I have a couple bottles in reserve.  Who would win this battle royale?
























First, we tried the Arbeg.  Joey felt that it was a bit sweeter than he remembered from our tasting at the LA Cocktail Classic.  I would agree with that.  It’s smoky, but the complexity of it isn’t what I remembered.  Joey felt there was a flash of smoke that goes away and he felt that it was more complex when he tried it before.  The sweetness overpowered the smokiness such that if you want a complex smoke flavor, it didn’t quite deliver.  He felt like the smell was sweet and almost cloying, though he doesn’t quite know what cloying means.  We both still feel that it is among our favorite whiskeys, but it didn’t live up to our memory.  Joey would say that the Ardbeg is certainly in the top 10% of whiskeys, meaning that it gets 91 points on the wine scale.  I feel that it is still very good, as all Ardbeg whiskeys are, but it doesn’t seem to have the complexity that I love in a whiskey.  Perhaps my previous tasting was biased by the setting.

Next we tried the Lagavulin 16.  Joey felt like it had more of a gasoline smoke smell.  It had a smooth start with a blossoming of smoke that lingers.  Definitely lingers more than the Ardbeg.  Joey would give the Laguvulin 93 points on our scale.  I feel like it gets better as you drink it, with more complexity coming forth.  Joey felt like Laguvulin had a good smoke flavor with a far greater length of time that the taste persisted, far more than the Ardbeg.  There was a quality difference that is hard to verbalize.  I have to agree as I’ve definitely been enjoying Laguvulin more of late, in a household with both the Ardbeg and Laguvulin available.   This is made especially attractive lately as Costco has been selling it for $55 a bottle (in Culver City, CA).

The winner: Laguvulin 16 by a comfortable margin.

- Ravi Iyer




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