Single malt whisky is a type of whisky made by a single distillery from 100% malted barley. It is usually a whisky made in Scotland where both of our focus brands come from. Single malt whisky is seen as an elite type of whisky due to the strict requirements regarding distillation.
In this article, we are going to be comparing 2 whisky brands, Lagavulin vs Macallan by looking at their similarities, what variations are available from each brand, and how they are made.
This will help you decide which brand you are going to try next time you are looking for a whisky.
Lagavulin vs Macallan Whisky
Lagavulin was founded in 1816 and was established outside the small town of Lagavulin on the island of Islay, Scotland. Ownership of the distillery changed multiple times during its operations, with Peter Mackie originally taking control during the 1800s.
Peter Mackie set out in 1878 to learn how to distill single malt and originally took over for his uncle Logan Mackie to control the distillery. It has since been bought by Diageo which is a multinational alcoholic beverages company.
Lagavulin now has a whisky in Diageo’s Classic Malts collection, with their 16-year-old joining the collection in 1988.
Macallan was founded in 1824 by Alexander Reid and is based above the river Spey in the northeast region of Scotland. Like Lagavulin, Macallan was one of the first legal distilleries in Scotland after the strict laws about private distillation were changed.
Alexander Reid was a schoolteacher and barley farmer. The name of the brand, Macallan, originated from the original area the distillery is in which was named Maghellan.
This comes from ‘Magh’ which refers to fertile ground and “Ellan” which is the name of a monk who worked in the church that used to sit in place of the estate home.
How Are They Made?
Single malt whisky, which both Macallan and Lagavulin produce, is created in a multiple-step process. Initially, the barley needs to be collected and must have been grown in Scotland. Next, the barley needs to be malted which is a process in which the barley is fermented to convert the sugar into alcohol.
Once the malted barley s collected it must be dried so that it can be stored. Some distilleries will choose to distill their malted barley without storing it first. The distillery will perform washbacks to mash the malt and produce the malt mash, and then it is time for distillation.
Distilling is a process of heating the mash and water to produce alcoholic vapor. This vapor is collected and cooled down, after which the liquid is stored in old oak barrels. These barrels will infuse the beverage with flavor notes and the unique color of the whisky.
What Are They Made of?
Lagavulin whisky is made with malted barley which gives it a sweeter taste. Peat is added to the fire to produce the malt mash and is collected from the west of Islay.
The water used to produce the single malt is collected from the Solan Lochs and is used during the process of distilling the final whisky product.
Similarly, Macallan uses malted barley as the base ingredient for their single malt whiskies. This barley is collected from across Scotland with their Macallan Estate variation containing barley harvested from the Easter Elchies estate.
How Are They Similar?
Both Macallan and Lagavulin are single-malt whiskies, made from malted barley and both are produced in Scotland. Macallan however has a higher average price than Lagavulin while some Lagavulin whiskies have a higher alcohol content than Macallan.
Since both brands produce single malt whisky, the most glaring similarity between the 2 is that they use similar production processes with malted barley, yeast, and water being the base ingredients for both brands.
Direct Comparison of Lagavulin Whiskey and Macallan Whiskey
|Item||Lagavulin Whisky||Macallan Whisky|
|Production Area||Lagavulin, Island of Islay, Scotland||Craigellachie, Moray, Scotland|
|Raw Ingredients||Malted Barley, water, yeast||Malted Barley, water, yeast|
|Alcohol by Volume (ABV)||43% (86 proof)||40% – 45% (80 – 90 proof)|
|Taste||Smoked peat, sweet notes, sea salt, mahogany||Pear, peppery clove, warmed bread, soaked raisins|
|Color||Light gold to deep amber depending on the variation||Gold, amber, ruby, sienna|
Lagavulin Whiskey Variations
Lagavulin has 12 variations available with aging ranging from 7 years to 37 years. These whiskies have an alcohol content of approximately 43% (86 proof), with the exact alcohol content differing between whisky types.
|Item||Average Price||Alcohol content|
|Lagavulin 11-Year-Old Offerman Edition Single Malt||$83||46% (92 proof)|
|Lagavulin 7-Year-Old Islay Jazz Festival 2022 Single Malt||$113||55,4% (110,8 proof)|
|Lagavulin 12-Year-Old Special Release 2022 Single Malt||$50||57,3% (114,6 proof)|
|Lagavulin 10-Year-Old||$95||43% (86 proof)|
|Lagavulin 16-Year-Old Single Malt||$98||43% (86 proof)|
|Lagavulin 8-Year-Old Single Malt||$70||48% (96 proof)|
|Lagavulin 12-Year-Old Special Release 2021 Single Malt||$155||56,5% 113 proof)|
|Lagavulin 8-Year-Old 200th Anniversary Edition||$84||48% (96 proof)|
|Lagavulin 26-Year-Old Special Release 2021 Single Malt||$2 151||44,2% (88,4 proof)|
|Lagavulin 37-Year-Old Single Malt||$3 000||51% (102 proof)|
|Lagavulin 9-Year-Old House of Lannister||$95||46% (92 proof)|
|Lagavulin 2006 Distillers Edition||$125||43% (86 proof)|
Macallan Whiskey Variations
Macallan has several ranges including Sherry Oak (with 10 options), Double Cask (5 options), Triple Cask Matured (3 options), Rare Cask (5 options), Estate (1 option), M Collection (3 options), and Quest Collection (4 options).
The Sherry Oak collection has a rich flavor and copper color from the sherry casks they were aged in, while the Double Cask collection has a light amber color. Macallan Triple Cask Matured has 3 options with a price of $91 to $220 making it a more affordable collection if you are looking for aged whisky.
|Item||Average Price||Alcohol content|
|Macallan Sherry Oak 12-Years-Old||$94||40% (80 proof)|
|Macallan Sherry Oak 18-Years-Old||$1 247||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Sherry Oak 25-Year-Old, 2018 Release||$4 225||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Sherry Oak 25-Year-Old, 2019 Release||$3 374||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Sherry Oak 25-Year-Old, 2020 Release||$3 023||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Sherry Oak 25-Year-Old, 2021 Release||$3 317||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Sherry Oak 25-Year-Old, 2022 Release||$2 911||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Sherry Oak 30-Years-Old||$6 682||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Sherry Oak 40-Years-Old, 2016 Release||$46 164||45% (90 proof)|
|Macallan Sherry Oak 40-Years-Old, 2017 Release||$46 164||44% (88 proof)|
|Macallan Double Cask Gold||$86||40% (80 proof)|
|Macallan Double Cask 12-Year-Old||$100||40% (80 proof)|
|Macallan Double Cask 15-Year-Old||$164||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Double Cask 18-Year-Old||$389||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Double Cask 30-Year-Old||$4 000||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Triple Cask Matured 12-Year-Old||$91||40% (80 proof)|
|Macallan Triple Cask Matured 15-Year-Old||$103||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Triple Cask Matured 18-Year-Old||$220||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Rare Cask Batch No. 1, 2019 Release||$476||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Rare Cask Batch No. 2, 2019 Release||$417||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Rare Cask 2020 Release||$350||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Rare Cask 2021 Release||$386||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Rare Cask 2022 Release||$398||43% (86 proof)|
|Macallan Estate||$300||43% (86 proof)|
|The Macallan M, 2022 Release||$6 750||45% (90 proof)|
|The Macallan M Black, 2022 Release||$7 600||46% (92 proof)|
|The Macallan M Copper, 2022 Release||$8 000||42% (84 proof)|
|Macallan Quest||$75||40% (80 proof)|
|Macallan Lumina||$146||41,3% (82,6 proof)|
|Macallan Terra||$207||43,8% (87,6 proof)|
|Macallan Enigma||$348||44,9% (89,8 proof)|
How To Drink Macallan and Lagavulin Whiskey
As a sophisticated and elegant beverage, single malt is made to savor and sip slowly. There are many ways to drink single malt ranging from simply pouring it into a glass and drink to the full process of tasting and sniffing it first.
For someone who has never tried whisky or does not know the proper way to take it in, this can be a complicated step.
First, you want to pour 1 to 2 ounces of your choice single malt into a whisky glass. Next, slowly pass the glass under your nose while breathing in deeply. During this, try to pick up as many aromas from the beverage as you can.
It is time to take an actual sip. Form your tongue into a lightly curved shape and take a small sip of the drink. Let it sit on your tongue and try to pick up the tasting notes that match the aromas you just noticed.
If you would like to add water to your single malt, try to make sure that there is less than 20% of the glass is water. Any more will dilute the whisky too much and will affect the flavor.
Laphroaig Whisky is a brand of single malt whisky that is situated a short walk from the Lagavulin distillery. There are 12 variations available from the brand ranging in strength and aging time.
The average price of Laphroaig whisky is $77 while the alcohol by volume (ABV) is 60% (120 proofs).
Bruichladdich has 2 ranges in their repertoire that include Port Charlotte and Octomore. Between these 2 ranges, there are 6 variations available with a price range of $65 to $225 at an alcohol content of 57,3% (114,6 proof).
These whiskies have a rich flavor with unique tasting notes across each variation.
GlenAllachie is a single malt whisky with 8 collections of whisky. Each of the whiskies has varying ABV and prices with rich tasting notes across the variations.
It has a medium to a long finish with afternotes of oak spice and chocolate and tasting notes of caramel, chocolate, raisins, and banana. The average price of this single malt is $474 with an approximate ABV of 57,2% (114,4 proof).
GlenDronach is a brand of whisky with 4 ranges including their Core Range, Archive, Special and Limited Editions, and their Travel Range.
The common tasting notes in these whiskies are oak, malt, roasted almonds, chocolate, and black pepper. At an approximate price of $61, this whisky has an ABV of 46% (92 proof).
Frequently Asked Questions
Which came first? Macallan was established in 1824 in northeast Scotland. Meanwhile, Lagavulin was established in 1816 in the town of Lagavulin, on the island of Islay in Scotland. This means that Lagavulin Whisky came first by 8 years.
Which is stronger? Macallan has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of approximately 40% to 45% (80 to 90 proof) while Lagavulin has an average ABV of 43% (86 proof). This means that is stronger although specific whiskies from either brand may have different alcohol content.
Which is the most popular? Popularity is a difficult thing to measure when it comes to whisky as different drinkers may prefer an element of one brand more than the other.
If you are looking for a Sherry Oak-aged whisky, then Macallan is a better option. However, for a whisky with a strong peat-smoke flavor, Lagavulin is a better choice.