Imagine a peat bog. Hold it in your mind. See it. Feel it. Smell it.

Got it? Good.

Now burn it. Burn it all. Reduce it to fine lumps of charcoal.

Take the breath of heaven, mix with finely-powdered gold, liquefy, and pour through the aforementioned charcoal lumps.

Add the slight taste of smoke on your lover's skin at the end of a night at the bar, and then the warmth of sunlight on your body after rising from the North Atlantic on a hot spring day, when the Gulf stream doesn't help and the water is just above freezing.

Toss in a hint of burning underground veins of coal; deep, mysterious, hot.

Mix well.

Magically transport to Islay, Scotland, where helpful folk place it in bottles and casks (wise ones) to be sold abroad and drunk at home.

Lagavulin is all this, and more.

Lagavulin is a 16-yr-old single malt Islay Scotch, for those who don't know it. The distillery is just outside Port Ellen on the Islay coast right between Laphroaig and Ardbeg, with which it shares a 3-mile long country lane. It looks like this from the water. The large chimney is the peat smoking area, and the two smaller ones the stills.

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