“Never been hungover. After I’ve had too much Whisky, I cook myself a large flank steak, pan-fried in salted butter. I eat that, put on a pair of wet socks and go to sleep.” ~Ron Swanson
A man who drops this kind of logic deserves a Whisky article in his honour. So…
What is Ron Swanson’s favourite Whisky?Over the course of Parks and Rec’s 7 seasons, Ron Swanson went from a government-hating divorcee with a saxophone-playing secret identity to a National Park superintendent and happily-married father. But one thing always remained certain; Ron loved to enjoy a certain dram of Whisky called Lagavulin 16.
From keeping a bottle in his office at all times to finally visiting Lagavulin distillery in season 6, the drink makes several appearances throughout the TV show and in many ways becomes the iconic symbol of Ron’s personality.
What is Lagavulin?Lagavulin is a Whisky distillery based in Islay. The name derives from the gaelic term for “hollow by the mill” and was originally an area used by Lords to keep their ships after War. Is it now making sense why old wooden ships feature in Ron’s Pyramid of Greatness?
Today the land is a fully functioning distillery producing just under 2.5 million litres of Whisky spirit every year. To give you some context Glenfiddich distillery produces about 13 million litres each year while Jack Daniels produce a whopping 90 million litres per year! Despite its smaller volume Lagavulin has become one of the most iconic distilleries not only on Islay but across Scotland.
So what makes Lagavulin so special?Lagavulin is often recognised as the richest single malt available from Islay and has a distinct sweet and peaty taste that is rarely forgotten.
The makers are renowned for their slower distillation process that includes a long fermentation and creates a product that will definitely not be your new light, breakfast dram. Like most distilleries there is a range of expressions available but this slow process of creating the base spirit ensures that all of them share the classic richness of a Lagavulin Scotch.
Ok I’m intrigued. How much is a bottle of Lagavulin?Lagavulin’s most accessible and biggest selling expression is the 16 year old, Ron Swanson’s “nectar of the gods”. At 43% ABV this would be classed as their introductory malt in terms of price. In Europe it can be found for around €60 and due to custom and taxes for around $100 in US.
By no means however is this an introductory Whisky. This expression has won a whole host of industry awards over the years and is arguably one of the most complex tasting Whiskies at its price range.
The other 2 core expressions currently in production at the distillery are the Distillers Edition and 12 year old.
So it’s just the 16? Can I try any other expressions from Lagavulin?
The Distiller’s Edition is the result of transferring the Whisky into Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks for the final stages of maturation. Pedro Ximenez Sherry is a dark and sweet desert wine and the flavours that pass into the Whisky from its barrels are intense enough to not get lost in the richness of Lagavulin.
The 12 year old is the younger version of the 16 year old and sold at a higher price point. Why you ask? Well, firstly this is bottled straight from the cask at a much higher percentage of ABV (56%-57% depending on the edition). Secondly, and this also applies to the Distiler’s Edition, the Whisky is rarer and only a fixed amount are bottled each year as part of vintage editions. Prices will vary depending on this vintage and connoisseurs will attempt to pick apart the nuances between each expression.
You’ve charmed me. Where can I buy Lagavulin?As luck would have it some the expressions are currently available here on Flaviar. There is a range of reviews and descriptions for each Whisky and the Flaviar Flavour Spiral can help you learn a bit more about the best expression for your taste palate.
Outside of these 3 there are also a lot more unique expressions that you may like to explore from Lagavulin.
For example, 2016 saw the distillery celebrate its 200th anniversary with exclusive bottlings of an 8 year old and 25 year old Scotch.
Undoubtedly adding more expressions to the range might be the result of Ron buying his 51% stake in the distillery in the show’s final episode!