Among\u00a0experienced\u00a0drinkers, this month's featured spirit needs no introduction. That's because Lagavulin 16 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is quite simply a grand champion. If it were a movie, it would be The\u00a0Godfather. If it were a basketball player, it would be Michael Jordan. The taste doesn't just fire on all cylinders as much as it explodes over each one of them. Yes, it's that good.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWidely available but nevertheless boldly\u00a0distinguished, Lagavulin 16 Year is often\u00a0a point of no return. This right here is\u00a0what converts\u00a0a\u00a0casual whisky drinker into\u00a0a passionate\u00a0seeker of the next exquisite dram. It also provides that rare instance where the quality meets if not surpasses virtually any amount of preceding\u00a0hype. To put it another way:\u00a0this baby delivers. In fact, the only time you should ever hear the words "I don't like Lagavulin 16" are when\u00a0they're followed by the words "because I can't stand peaty malts", and even then you should still furrow\u00a0your brow. Presenting our Spirit of the Month for June 2017: Lagavulin 16 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nHistory\r\nThe history of Lagavulin goes back. Way back. Legend has it there was an illegal network of distilleries in the town of Lagavulin as early as 1742, making it one of Scotland's oldest whiskies. Loose talk aside, 1816 marks\u00a0the brand's official launch year. That's when a farmer named John Johnston turned\u00a0an abandoned building into a (legitimate) whisky distillery. A year later, Johnston's partner would set up a second distillery that malted its own barley. The two units quickly joined forces under the Lagavulin banner.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nBy 1861, Lagavulin Distillery had come\u00a0under the ownership of James L Mackie & Co (later known as Mackie & Co.). James Mackie would bring his nephew, Sir Peter J. Mackie, into the fold. Also known as "Restless Pete", the cunning and ambitious Sir Peter Mackie became a senior partner in 1890.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIt's Peter Mackie who's largely credited with\u00a0bringing the name Lagavulin\u00a0to the next level. Among other things, he\u00a0went to great lengths to ensure his distillery\u00a0had sole\u00a0access to the\u00a0premium local water supply. Some also say Restless Pete took\u00a0a few tricks and even a few employees from neighbouring distillery (and former employer) Laphroiag. That resulted in some intense legal battles to say the least. Hopefully it's all water and brine under the bridge by now. In any case, Peter Mackie is remembered to this day as a major stepping stone in the brand's ongoing quality and success.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nLike any company around for ages, Lagavulin has experienced plenty of ups and downs over the years. They're now owned by Diageo, who seems content to let the brand do its thing. It's a wise move because\u00a0Lagavulin is possibly bigger now than ever before. That popularity comes courtesy of the stellar taste, but furthermore the recent whisky boom\u00a0along with some earnest\u00a0PR from Nick Offerman (aka Ron Swanson). And Offerman isn't blowing smoke even if he's sipping it. This is a truly remarkable expression bursting\u00a0with character. It\u00a0delivers bold, unforgettable taste over and over again. Indeed, Lagavulin 16 a living classic if there ever was one.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\nTasting\r\nDistinction in taste starts with distinction in ingredients and methodology. To make its wonderful product, Lagavulin uses local Lochan Sholum water, which flows downhill through bogs of rich peat. For a long time Lagavulin\u00a0was malting their own barley, but in 1974 they shut down their own Malt Mill for good and began buying their malt from the legendary Port Ellen Maltings.\u00a0They double distill their alcohol, first in big\u00a0wash stills and then in pear-shaped pot stills at precise and slow distillation speeds. Next, they\u00a0age the whisky in ex-bourbon barrels and sherry casks inside a white brick warehouse strategically located next to the iodine rich sea. Being a single malt, every drop of Lagavulin 16 Year Old Scotch Whisky is aged in-house. The outcome\u00a0is pure flavour country.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAlthough Lagavulin commonly produces a small range of\u00a0expressions, the 16 Year Old Single Malt remains their masterpiece. It really is\u00a0quite like nothing you've ever tasted, especially if you're just starting to explore Scotch whisky. And while the smoke is impossible to ignore, it's expertly\u00a0balanced by a palpable sherried sweetness. Rounding out the spirit's many charms is\u00a0a rich amber colour. That colour is achieved through\u00a0carmelisation (according to most recent accounts), but it's beautifully striking nevertheless. Here's a breakdown:\r\n\r\nNose: Copious amounts of smoke are the first thing my\u00a0nostrils take in, but it's a rich, smooth, delightful smoke rounded out by notes of sugar and lightly grassy undertones.\r\n\r\nTaste:\u00a0In my experience, the sugary sweetness\u00a0usually comes first. It's followed by luxurious and full-bodied smoke. This is campfire smoke, charred to perfection and balanced by the sustained melted sugar factor. The profile is layered, smooth, smoky, sweet and rarely subtle. A mild dryness keeps the whisky from being outright creamy, though texturally it still rolls over the tongue with ease.\r\n\r\nFinish:\u00a0The savoury smoke hangs and\u00a0there's no burn. There are small blasts\u00a0of chocolate and coffee toward the very end\u00a0that range in strength from sip to sip.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFor those who enjoy a peaty malt, Lagavulin 16 is so outwardly superb you might consciously avoid it just so you never get tired of it. But every now and then you take home a bottle and remind yourself just how amazing it is. On the most unforgettable of sips, there's a taste that goes all the way down to your toes. Meanwhile, the smell of sweet, bold smoke is seeping into your clothing.\r\n\r\nHence I crown thee, Lagavulin 16 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, as (current) grand champion among readily available\u00a0spirits. And I say "readily available spirits" because let's be honest there are likely\u00a0some harder-to-find drams even more profound and luxurious in taste. On the other hand, if you're the type of person\u00a0who seeks out rare\u00a0drams, it might very well have been Lagavulin that sent you down your\u00a0path in the first place.\r\nLagavulin\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHave you subscribed to Man of Many? You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.