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Lagavulin vs Oban Whisky

Charl Joost
Last Updated: February 14th, 2023

Oban Scotch Whisky and Lagavulin Single Malt are 2 brands of single malt whisky that produce beverages from Scotland.

Single malt whisky is a type of whisky made by a single distillery from malted barley. It is seen as an elite type of whisky with older variations generally costing more than younger ones due to the extensive distillation process.

In this article, we dig into Lagavulin vs Oban Whisky by examining their histories and variations, as well as several alternatives should you choose to not buy either of the brands discussed.

Lagavulin Whisky or Oban Whisky

oban whisky

Oban Whisky distillery was established in 1794 by John and Huh Stevenson and was named before the town in which it was situated. It was only a few years later that the town was named Oban after the distillery. With only 2 pot stills, Oban is among the smaller distilleries in Scotland when compared to Lagavulin.

The distillery is now owned by Diageo, having been bought in 1989 through a merger with the UDV merger. Guinness UDV was formed when Diageo combined with the United Distillers and Grand Metropolitan’s company, International Distillers and Vintners.

Diageo is a multinational alcohol company that now owns more than 200 brands of alcohol with Oban being the second smallest distillery under their umbrella. Within their scotch whisky range is over 100 brands, with their total reach being across 180 countries

Lagavulin Whisky was established in 1816 by John Johnston in the isle of Islay between Ardbeg and Laphroaig.

There was a second distillery already sharing the site with Lagavulin which was absorbed by the company in 1837. John’s son, Donald, inherited the distillery in 1837 and was in control of the production until 1852.

Like Oban, Lagavulin is owned by Diageo having been bought in 1997. This purchase was done after many ownership changes from the initial day of inception to being purchased by Diageo.

It was bought in 1862 and became well-known to the greater public when Peter J. Mackie made his purchase, with his nephew eventually taking over control in 1878.

Given that both brands are owned by Diageo and produce single malt whisky, these are easy to compare which we will be doing going forward. They are made in an interesting method that involves multiple steps and is made using the same base ingredients.

How Are They Made?

Made exclusively from malted barley, single malt is made in a multi-step process. It starts with the barley being collected from across Scotland after which it is malted.

Malting is done by steeping the barley in water and leaving it to germinate on a malting floor. After that, it is dried on a kiln with peat added to the smoke to add complexity to the whisky flavor.

Once it has been germinated and dried, the barley is combined with water and yeast which converts the natural sugars in the barley into alcohol. It is then distilled in a pot still which involves heating the liquid and allowing vapor to form. The vapor is collected and cooled down to create the final whisky solution.

Old oak casks are then used to age the whisky with the most common casks being old American bourbon barrels. During the aging process, the flavors captured in the wood are infused into the single malt giving it more depth.

The amber color of the whisky is also formed from the barrels with darker whiskies being older than lighter-colored ones.

What Are They Made of?

Barley is collected from a specific location in Scotland and combined with water and yeast to produce the malt mash. Peat is added to the smoke while the barley is being dried to create a peat-smoke flavor within the final product, while the yeast helps convert the sugars into alcohol.

Lagavulin collects its water from the Solan Lochs while the peat comes from the west of the island. Oban ages their whisky in oak barrels with the barrels being old American Oak bourbon barrels.

These barrels will infuse the whisky with an amber color and tasting notes from the bourbon.

How Are They Similar?

Both whisky brands are situated in Scotland, with Lagavulin established on the isle of Islay while Oban was established in the Kintyre Peninsula.

From the initial distillation of the whisky, both brands have a similar method. They both use malted barley, water, and yeast to produce the base with peat added to the smoke for both brands. Peat smoke can create complex flavors within the final single malt.

Both Oban and Lagavulin have whiskies available at an alcohol content of 43% *86 proof), although Oban only has this strength while Lagavulin has 43% as the minimum. Most of their whiskies have higher alcohol contents with the maximum being 57,3% (114,6 proof).

Direct Comparison of Lagavulin vs Oban Whisky

Item Lagavulin Whisky Oban Whisky
Production Area Lagavulin, Island of Islay, Scotland Kintyre Peninsula, Scotland
Raw Ingredients Malted Barley, water, yeast, peat Water, malted barley, yeast, peat
Alcohol by Volume (ABV) 43% (86 proof) 43% (86 proof)
Taste Smoked peat, sweet notes, sea salt, mahogany Smoke, marmalade, pear cider, toffee apples
Average Price $105 $84
Color Light gold to deep amber depending on the variation Light amber color

Lagavulin Whisky Variations

lagavulin variations

Lagavulin has 12 whisky variations available for purchase. These include whiskies aged between 7 and 37 years, with a minimum price point of $50 and a maximum of $3000.

Across the whiskies, there is an average alcohol content of 43%, with the lowest ABV being 43% (86 proof) and the highest ABV being 57,3% (114,6 proof).

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)

Oban Whisky Variations

oban variations

Oban has a much smaller offering than Lagavulin, with 4 whiskies available for purchase. All 4 variations have an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 43% (86 proof) and all have a light amber hue to them. The primary tasting notes across the whiskies are peat and fruit, with additional notes of sea salt, honey, and spice differing across the variations.

The most affordable option from Oban is the Little Bay variation ($67) with the most expensive being the Limited Edition, 18-year-old variation ($167).

Item Average Price Alcohol content
Oban 14-Years-Old $80 43% (86 proof)
Oban 18-Years-Old Limited Edition $167 43% (86 proof)
Oban Little Bay $67 43% (86 proof)
Oban Distillers Edition $108 43% (86 proof)

How To Drink Oban and Lagavulin Whisky

Single malt is a type of whisky that is seen as elite. Particularly with Scottish single malts, some criteria must be considered that lead to this being a ‘superior’ whisky.

It is therefore assumed that single malt must be drunk in a particular way to ensure you are enjoying it and taking in the aromas and notes of this whisky.

Start by pouring 1 to 2 ounces of whisky into a bourbon glass and swirl it. This will cause the liquid to slowly trickle down the sides of the glass with older whiskies moving slower than older whiskies. Next, waft the glass below your nose a few times and try to pick out the separate scents and matching ingredients used to create it.

Next, shape your tongue into a spoon shape and take a small sip of the whisky. Let it sit on your tongue and take a moment to pick out the tasting notes within the drink. If you can, try to match the tasting notes with the aromas and ingredients you recognized earlier.

You can add a small splash of water to the whisky if you would like but it is recommended that you do not add ice to your single malt. As the ice melts, it will water down the beverage too much which will affect the taste of the whisky.


lagavulin and oban alternative
Image: Konstantin Ponomarenko

Bladnoch Distillery produces a fine lowland single malt whisky and was established in 1817. There are 15 whiskies available in their offerings with tasting notes including pears, chocolate sauce, vanilla, and florals.

This whisky has a light gold to deep amber color with an average price of $81 and an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 46,7% (93,4 proof).

Loch Lomond was established in 1814 and produces various single-malt whiskies of different ages. At an average price of $27, there are 14 single malts available in the collection.

However, Lock Lomond also sells other whisky types including their range of limited editions and single-grain whisky. This whisky brand has an ABV of approximately 46% (92 proof).

Ardbeg is a brand of Scottish single malt that is situated a short distance from Lagavulin. There are 10 variations included in their collection, including a younger, 5-year-old whisky to a 25-year-old variation.

Ardbeg’s whisky has an ABV of 46% (92 proof) and can be bought for $59.

Talisker whisky is made by one of the oldest distilleries on the isle of Skye, having been established in 1830. There are more than 20 variations available from the brand.

At an average price of $52 per 750 ml bottle, this whisky has an ABV of 45,8% (91,6 proof).

Lagavulin vs Oban Whisky – FAQs

Which came first?

Oban was established in 1794 while Lagavulin was established in 1816. This means that Oban came first by approximately 22 years.

Which is stronger?

Both Lagavulin and Oban have an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 43% (86 proof). This means that neither is stronger on average, although Lagavulin has some whisky variations that have a higher alcohol content with some reaching an ABV of 57,3% (114,6 proof).

Which is the most popular?

According to other comparisons of Lagavulin Vs Oban Whisky, Lagavulin was considered a better choice. However, depending on what you prefer in a single malt, either option may be better for you.

About The Author

Charl Joost

Charl is a trainer, public speaker, and professional writer. While he has been coached to niche down, he has many passions. These include golf, gardening, technology, and a decent cup of coffee or two. Charl loves to learn about new products and tries everything he writes about.

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