Lagavulin’s homage to the “Parks & Recreation” star is more than a marketing ploy. It’s a great whisky in its own right that can stand proudly alongside Lagavulin’s other expressions.
- Classification: Single malt Scotch whisky
- Company: Diageo
- Distillery: Lagavulin, Islay, Scotland
- Cask type: Ex-bourbon and rejuvenated bourbon casks
- Released: 2019, limited edition, still generally available
- Proof: 92
- Aged: 11 years
- MSRP: $75
- Not just a younger version of Lagavulin’s flagship 16-year-old, the Offerman Edition, while definitely a Lagavulin, has its own distinct personality.
- A rare celebrity tie-in that’s worth checking out even if you have no idea who this celebrity is
- Limited edition; hoarders may want to stock up while they can
Color: Bright copper with undertones of gold; paler than the 16-year-old expression, which is said to use caramel coloring
Nose: Bright fruits like green apple and hints of citrus dominate, accompanied by campfire smoke and salty sea air.
Palate: Whereas the 16-year-old has darker red-apple notes, the Offerman comes on bright and slightly tart, with lots of green apple and peach. Medicinal notes, a hallmark of Islay whiskies, creep in midpalate, quickly giving way to dry oak and campfire smoke. The mouthfeel is rich and buttery.
Finish: Long and lingering, with cereal notes from the barley and light smoke predominating; more subtle than the 16-year-old
Lagavulin has officially been in business since 1816 and was likely distilling whisky illegally for decades before that. It’s one of the most famous distilleries on Islay, the rocky, sparsely populated island off the west coast of Scotland that’s known for its peaty, smoky whiskies.
If you’ve watched “Parks & Recreation,” you know the character of Ron Swanson has a slight obsession with Lagavulin, the venerable Islay single malt that celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2016. What you may not know is that the character’s passion was inspired by that of the actor who plays him, Nick Offerman. Lagavulin and Offerman have been working together since 2014, and in 2019 the distillery honored him with his own special bottling.
The youngest whisky in this blend is 11 years old, which makes a nice contrast to Lagavulin’s best-known expression, the 16-year-old, perhaps the quintessential Islay malt. With its distinct dry smokiness, the Offerman Edition resides squarely within the Lagavulin canon, but the differences from the 16-year-old are noticeable. The smokiness is somewhat lighter, the fruitiness a little brighter and the finish a little milder. The Offerman Edition won’t necessarily appeal to Islay novices who aren’t familiar with peated whiskies, but if you already have a taste for peat and smoke, this is a great one.
The Offerman Edition, like all Lagavulins, is intended for sipping. It clocks in at 46% ABV; a little water opens up the flavors a bit, but it’s not at all necessary since the finish is practically burn-free when taken neat. It’s almost a shame to use a whisky this good in a cocktail, let alone as a secondary ingredient, but it does work very well in a Penicillin, which calls for a float of peaty scotch. This one, however, deserves to be savored solo in a glass, where all of its complexity can come through unencumbered.
Unlike many celebrities with spirits tie-ins, Offerman really knows his whisky. In fact, he helped select the barrels used in this blend. He also wrote a slightly hyperbolic and very entertaining testimonial to the liquid, which can be found on the box.
The bottom line: For fans of Islay malts, this is a must, another masterpiece from a great distillery. And for the peat-curious, this would be a good place to start. We’re looking forward to more Offerman-Lagavulin collaborations and hoping this one sticks around for a while.