Whisky Review: Lagavulin Offerman Edition Caribbean Rum Cask Finish Scotch Whisky

I’m a sucker for two things: a peaty scotch whisky and anything where Nick Offerman is involved. Luckily for me (and unluckily for my wallet), those two have been teaming up in recent years to create some interesting and innovative spirits that are variations on Lagavulin’s product line — and their most recent offering aims to bring a little ray of happiness and sunshine to the cold and miserable weather of Scotland.



Illegal distilling has been going on at the current site of the Lagavulin distillery dating back to at least 1742, but the officially licensed and legal Lagavulin distillery was established in 1816 by John Johnston. Using pear shaped stills to distill their malted barley mash in small batches, they quickly gained a reputation for their fine product.

Johnston would continue to run the distillery until his death in 1836, expanding the distillery to take over a second facility that had appeared next to his original building. What followed was a succession of small Scottish companies who owned and operated the distillery between 1836 and 1887, when the owner died and Peter Mackie took over.

Lagavulin was originally only available within Scotland, not even exported as far as England to the south until 1890. One of Mackie’s first moves was to create a whisky called the “White Horse Blend” that incorporated Lagavulin as a component for the export market and became wildly popular.

In 1908, the distillery had a bit of a spat with the neighboring Laphoraig distillery. After trying to choke off their production by damming the stream they use as a water source, Lagavulin actually duplicated Laphoraig’s distillery at a facility called the “Malt Mill” and started producing an identical spirit in an attempt to drive them out of business. While Mackie was unsuccessful in killing the rival distillery, the Malt Mill was somewhat successful and operated until the 1962 renovation and expansion of the Lagavulin distillery. The old Malt Mill distillery now serves as the visitor’s center.

Private ownership of the distillery ended in 1927, when the current owners of the distillery sold it to the Distillers Company Limited, a conglomerate of Scotch whisky manufacturers. The distillery changed hands most recently when The Distillers Company Limited was sold to Guinness and finally in 1997 to Diageo, the newly formed British spirits company.


Lagavulin Scotch Whisky is a traditional recipe with a twist.

The spirit starts as malted barley from Port Ellen Maltings that has been smoked and baked using local peat. The barley is separated into its components and added to the mash in a very particular ratio.

The mash is created in a stainless steel mash tun and cooked for a longer duration than most other whiskys, then transferred to large oak vats for fermentation where it is also left to sit for an abnormally long 55 hours. Once the fermented mash is created, it is distilled in one of Lagavulin’s pear shaped pot stills.

Like other Scotch producers, Lagavulin uses former bourbon barrels to age their spirit. These charred American oak barrels are imported, filled with neutral grain spirit for three years, and then re-filled with the distilled spirit from Lagavulin’s stills. For this new collaboration with Offerman, Lagavulin specifically selected heavily charred bourbon barrels as well as a selection of previously used red wine barrels to create the desired flavor profile. The barrels then sit for a period of 11 years, either at their facility or other storage facilities around Scotland before bottling.

For this special edition collaboration with Nick Offerman, the distillery takes their already delicious 11 year old scotch and places it into oak casks that had previously been used to mature Caribbean rum. It then sits in these for an additional eight months before being bottled and shipped for sale.


There’s a rather significant difference between this version and the usual edition of Lagavulin whisky. They definitely didn’t just slap a new label on the bottle and call it good.

Breaking from the previous collaborations, this box is styled as if wrapped in an old sailing map of the world. Lifting up the top flap reveals the bottle, as well as a cheeky message from the man himself that sets the tone for the rest of the package. It’s a good introduction to the concept of the product and sets the package apart from the other lines.

The bottle itself is a beauty of understated simplicity.

A traditional styled bottle with a round body, a gently tapered shoulder, and a rather long neck, it’s not pulling any new tricks here — but I wouldn’t expect a flashy bottle from a distiller that dates back to 1816.

The glass is a smoked and tinted color, which I have conflicting feelings about. On the one hand, the opaqueness better protects the content of the bottle. But on the other hand, it doesn’t show off the beautiful color of the liquid within. Overall, I’ll chalk it up as more of a win than a loss for now.

The bottle is capped with a wooden and cork stopper.

Normally, the labels on the bottle are reminiscent of a late 1800’s style design with faded black lettering on a yellowed paper. In this case, the lettering is bold and black, with an illustration of a bearded Nick Offerman prominently featured as a portrait in the middle of the bottle and also depicted behind the wheel of a sailing ship in the bottom right hand corner. Also interesting is that the portrait sticker of Offerman has a tattered edge, as if the bottle had sailed around the world and seen some wear and tear.

It’s an appealing bottle, and the playful caricatures add some appreciated levity to the otherwise stoic labeling.



Much like the other spirits in Lagavulin’s line, the liquid is a beautiful rich golden color in the glass. It’s almost like a Caribbean rum. But while it might look like a rum, the aroma coming off the glass will definitely let you know what you’re dealing with: peat smoke is the first note I’m getting, but while it is clear and present it isn’t quite as loud as it is in other versions of Lagavulin. Backing that up is some of that slate or sea salt, adding to that idea that you’re standing on a beach in Scotland. What’s different here is a little bit of sweetness that lingers in the background, a hint of sugar like you’d normally see with a rum combined with some minor notes of banana and pineapple.

Giving the whisky a proper taste, it starts out surprisingly sweet with some flavors of brown sugar and vanilla combined with a hint of banana and vanilla. As the flavor develops, it seems like that brown sugar gets progressively more charred, with the peat smoke becoming increasingly more prominent. Even though this is still a smoky spirit, it never gets to quite the same level as you’d expect with other Lagavulin spirits. Instead, it remains an enjoyable contributor instead of taking over like you might expect.

The finish feels like a mellow evening sitting on a boat watching the sun go down — warm, sweet, and slightly smoky. As if you’re sipping a nicely aged rum and smoking a full bodied cigar, with all of the flavors are nicely balanced and enjoyable.

On Ice

The flavors that set a rum apart from other spirits don’t come from the cask, they come from the spirit itself. The same casks that are used in rum production are already used in scotch whisky production, so there really isn’t anything different you’d expect by using those casks themselves. The big difference is from the latent spirit still in those barrels that leach into the whisky.

While that might be good taken neat, it really doesn’t make a huge difference once the ice goes into the glass. The flavors that come from the rum itself are lighter and sweeter: brown sugar, banana, pineapple — all flavors that pretty much disappear with the added dilution and lower temperature.

The good news is that, even with those rum specific flavors removed, this is still a delicious whisky. It does seem to be a bit darker, more of a charred flavor compared to how it tastes taken neat, but still nicely balanced.


Overall Rating

I’m a big fan of cask finishing using unique and interesting options. I’ve tried whisky finished in everything from beer barrels to maple syrup barrels and everything in between — and while the results can sometimes be a bit mixed, I’m always happy for the attempt.

In this case, I feel like the rum cask added a very mild change to the flavor profile. The same casks are being used, the only real difference is some of the residual rum that is being mixed into the spirit. There’s some slight sweetness and a hint of tropical fruit that start appearing near the finish, but once some ice goes into the glass it collapses back into a standard (yet still tasty) scotch whisky.

Compared to the competition, I think there’s enough here to support a four star finding. The flavors all mix well and there is, in fact, a change to the flavors provided by the finishing process… it just isn’t significant enough to tempt me into a fifth star. It does, however, sufficiently tempt me into paying to check out the next Offerman collaboration.

Lagavulin Offerman Edition Caribbean Rum Cask Finish Scotch Whisky
Produced By: Lagavulin
Owned By: Diageo
Production Location: Islay, Scotland
Classification: Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
Aging: 11 Years
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $79.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating:
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 4/5
Like standing on a Caribbean beach with a rich cigar.


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