Lagavulin 16-year-old is commonly regarded as the quintessential expression of Islay malt. This is, of course, a fiercely contentious claim. But the distillery’s visual splendor is never up for debate. From its trademark pear-shaped stills to the setting at the foot of its eponymous bay, Lagavulin has to be seen to be believed. To fully understand how setting impacts spirit, the Warehouse Demonstration is not to be missed. The barrelhouse manager draws samples from a series of casks, ranging successively upward in maturity, as you taste your way through the aging process in real time. The experience is offered every day at 10:30 a.m.
Power move: After the tour, hike a short distance along the mouth of Lagavulin Bay to arrive at the steps of Dunyvaig Castle, a 12th-century ruin that affords the most instagram-able panorama of the distillery, dramatically framed across the water.