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Macallan 12 Double Cask vs Lagavulin 16: Discover the Better!

Discover the differences between Macallan 12 vs Lagavulin 16 in this head to head comparison and decide which whisky is better for You!

Macallan 12 Double Cask

  • Nose: Sherry, dried fruit, mixed nuts
  • Palate: Baking spice, oak, chocolate
  • Finish: Oak, dried fruit, oak spice
  • Alcohol content: 86 proof (43% ABV)
  • How to drink: Add water
  • Similar to: Redbreast 12


The nose is sweet, rich in sherry, dried fruit and oak.

On the palate, the Double Cask kicks-off with a blast of oak, followed by bitter chocolate, sherry and a bit of citrus. There is just a bit of warmth yet from the pleasant type as it’s not burny.

The finish is long, with more oak to it, rich in dried fruit and a tad of spice.

Is it good?

The Double Cask is rich in flavors, not too sweet, with a faint note of chocolate, a trace of spice, with a bit of warmth at the end and a noticeable oaky note making it a pleasing dram as it goes down nicely.

Overall, the Macallan 12 Double Cask serves as an introductory release to sherry cask matured Scotch before going for the sherry-bombs (Glenallachie, GlenDronach), although the deep oaky note can be a little overwhelming for some consumers

Adding a splash of water will tune-down the oak and the warmth making it easier to drink. I would not use the Double Cask as a mixer due to its price.

Macallan Double Cask facts:

  • Macallan was aged for 12 years using a combination of American and European oak casks seasoned with sherry wine from Spain.
  • Earned Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2017.
  • The Macallan Distillery was founded in 1824 and is located in Craigellachie, Moray.
  • Macallan is a Speyside Whisky, the most densely populated Whisky region in the world. Speyside whiskies are known for being low in peat and full of fruit and are commonly matured in Sherry casks.

Lagavulin 16

  • Nose: Smoke, vanilla, iodine
  • Palate: Smoke, tobacco, seaweed, fresh fruit
  • Finish: Smoke, fig, vanilla
  • Alcohol content: 86 proof (43% ABV)
  • How to drink: Add water
  • Similar to: Ardbeg 10, Laphroaig 10


Lagavulin 16 has a strong aroma of smoke and sea salt along sweet notes of vanilla and caramel.

On the palate, it provides a great mouthfeel as it feels thick and creamy.

Flavor is rich, with a delicious blast of smoke, caramel, along fruity sweetness. The peatiness is incredibly well balanced against rich caramel sweetness and fruity notes.

The finish is long, sweet and pleasantly warm, with more smoke to it.

Is it good?

Lagavulin 16 is a great malt with a strong but still enjoyable peaty profile with delicious sweetness.

In a 1 to 5 scale (5 the highest) the Lagavulin 16 scores a 4 making it quite high and hard to swallow to new drinkers.

The peated barley has up to twenty times as much exposure to peat smoke as compared to the average Scotch.

If you find yourself overwhelmed in smoke add a few drops of water, that will open-up the Lagavulin making it sweeter, while tuning-down the peat and will become easier to sip.

Quite smoky, but smooth and incredibly well balanced providing a great experience from nose to finish with no let downs.

It is demanding, though, only suitable for experienced aficionados as it welcomes you with a blast of smoke up-front to later reward you with caramel sweetness and beautiful fruity notes.

This is a lovely whisky to wash down with a cigar by the fireplace and reflect about life.

Lagavulin 16 facts:

  • Lagavulin is aged for 16 years using ex-bourbon barrels.
  • Named the “Best Single Malt Whisky” at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2013.
  • 6 Double Gold Medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
  • Lagavulin distillery was founded in 1816 by John Johnston and Archibald Campbell, is located in the village of Lagavulin on the south of the island of Islay, Scotland.
  • This brand is owned by Diageo and contributes with malts to some of Johnnie Walker‘s best blends.
  • “Best Single Malt Whisky (13-19 Years)” at the 2013 Competition.

Macallan 12 Double Cask vs Lagavulin 16: Similarities

  • These drams are labeled as single malt whiskies, that is, spirits made exclusively from malted barley at a single distillery and aged for a minimum of 3 years.

Macallan 12 Double Cask vs Lagavulin 16: Differences

  • Macallan is a Speyside whisky. These spirits are distilled in Strathspey, the area around the River Spey in Moray and Badenoch and Strathspey, in northeastern Scotland.
  • Speyside is home of other distillers such as Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Glenlivet among many others. Speyside whiskies are the most popular single malts in the world as they are smoother, easier to drink and have low levels of smoke.
  • Lagavulin is produced in the island of Islay, which hosts distinguished distillers such as Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman and Laphroaig. These whiskies are more mineral and are famous for being rich in smoky notes coming from the peats used to dry the malted barley. An Islay whisky demands a higher level of expertise to be enjoyed.
  • Macallan 12 Double Cask is aged using a combination of American and European ex-sherry casks. The term “ex-sherry” means that these casks previously stores Spanish Sherry wine. This type of barrel makes the whisky sweeter and gives a deeper amber hue to the Scotch.
  • Lagavulin ages for 16 years in ex-bourbon barrels from Kentucky; as you might expect bourbon notes are detectable.

Macallan vs Lagavulin: Price Comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Macallan 12 Double Cask$68
Lagavulin 16$75

Macallan 12 vs Lagavulin 16: Which is better?

Macallan is easier to like

WhiskeyMacallan 12Lagavulin 16
  • Lagavulin 16 is a demanding whisky. It hits hard with smoke to later reward you with pleasing fruity notes providing a great experience.
  • Macallan is easier to like. This is a sherried whisky, not too sweet, a bit too high in oak providing an easy drinker.
  • But it definitely requires a more persistent aficionado to enjoy its smoky profile.

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