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Lagavulin 16 and Superman Unchained

  • The Whisky: Lagavulin 16 year old 
  • Cask Type: Ex-bourbon and sherry casks
  • Strength: 43%
  • Distillery: Lagavulin 
  • Region: Islay   
  • The Comic: Superman Unchained 
  • DC Comics
  • Author: Scott Snyder
  • Artist: Jim Lee (pencils) Scott Williams (inker) 
  • Colours: Alex Sinclaire and Jeromy Cox
  • Letters: Sal Clipriano
  • Genre: Superhero
From Whiskey Geek #1’s shelf

The Pairing

Sometimes, deciding on our pairings is hard. This is not one of those times. The Lagavulin 16-year-old is in our humble opinion the gold standard of Islay whiskies. It has everything that we want in a peated whisky, peat smoke, iodine, sweet spices, great feel in the mouth, and a long satisfying finish of more smoke, more oak and spice, and some sweet vanilla. It is complex, yet straightforward. You know what you are getting with the Lagavulin 16-year-old…and that is excellence. So, what do you pair with it? Superman of course! The original superhero. The golden boy. The one who never lets you down, who always finds a way, who is always (ok, almost always) on the side of right. He has all the best superpowers, uses them for good (again, almost always), and is the epitome of classic comic book hero.  But alas, with over 90 years of Superman comics to choose from, which one do you pick? How about the one with our favourite current writer and an absolute legend of an artist? Well that was not too hard after all.

The Whisky: Lagavulin 16

So let’s pour a dram of the Lagavulin 16 into our Whiskey Geeks Glencairn glass and jump into this one. 

As you stick your nose in and inhale, it just feels like home…or is that just me? Sorry, I’m getting carried away. If you could not tell, I LOVE this whisky.

Right off the bat you get the peat and iodine on the nose, along with notes of sherry and vanilla from the casks.  Personally, I find the more I breathe this in the more sweetness I get.

Alternatively, if you want to pull out more of the smokiness, put a bit onto your palm, rub your hands together, cup them, shove your nose in there, and breath.  Crazy how this can change the nose, but it really does. For me, that is where the warm campfire smoke comes through, while the iodine and vanilla notes are more prominent in the glass.

Lagavulin 16

Pro tip: No one wants to waste whisky by pouring it into their hands to smell, so just wipe up the dribble on the side of the bottle after you pour and use that…it’s the perfect amount. And if you make the perfect pour with no dribble? First off, good for you. Second, swirl the whisky in your glass, and dip your pinky down the side and grab the “legs” from the side.

Like the nose, the peat smoke and iodine continue to be present, but not overpowering. This is followed by a nice and complimentary spice and sweetness from the sherry casks. I was able to pull out some raisins in the middle after the initial smoke dissipated a little, and before the peat returns on the looooong full finish where hints of vanilla from the oak casks sneak in to join in on the fun.

There is some more spiciness on the finish, but after 16 years in the cask, this is subtle and not over the top like with some younger whiskies. This is surely a dram that you can let sit in your mouth, swirl it around and coat your tongue before swallowing and just sit and enjoy as the different waves of flavour play in your mouth. This is a dram to be enjoyed over time, as it really does have many layers.

Perhaps while you read Superman Unchained? Why yes…that sounds like a perfectly super evening to us. 

The Comic Book: Superman Unchained

Superman Unchained unites Scott Snyder (WG fav and writer of the Batman Court of Owls run… we will get to that I promise…it is incredible) with the legend Jim Lee (on our personal Mount Rushmore of comic book artists) doing the pencils and his long-time inker Scott Williams. If somehow you cannot picture his artwork just have a quick look at the cover of Superman Unchained #1…we can wait.  You’re back? Good…amazing right? When the discussion about the Lagavulin 16-year-old came up, we both immediately said “Superman”, and since I (Whiskey Geek #1) have the single issues of the Unchained run, I immediately put it forward, which Whiskey Geek #2 quickly seconded, having borrowed it, and read it as well.  We both love Snyder and Lee on their own, so when they joined forces to take on this new story, we were ALL IN!

Like with Court of Owls, Snyder weaves a complex story, forcing Superman to face a new foe, W.R.A.I.T.H., another super being who absorbs and is powered by the solar radiation from the sun, but one who is working for the U.S. military, and Lois Lane’s father, General Samuel Lane, out of a secret military base in Utah. 

At the start of book 1, we learn that the “Fat Man” atom bomb that fell on Nagasaki was actually this hero / villain W.R.A.I.T.H., and that he has apparently been working with the U.S. government for some time.  Lane accuses Superman of being weak and a coward by not being more political and acting against dictators and despots, as this is allowing millions to die and live in fear and poverty. 

This raises some interesting moral questions concerning Superman’s lack of action in some areas, which as a reader was really nice as it added some depth and complexity to the character and made you explicitly aware of the wider scope of the world and how even inaction has consequences.  

Superman Unchained #9

The main threat, however, is posed by a cyber-terrorist organization called Ascension, who are causing satellites to fall from orbit, hacking and taking control of a giant construction robot in Abu Dhabi and attacking the Burj Khalifa and some other shenanigans.

This threat causes Superman and W.R.A.I.T.H. to work together to fight against this common threat.  Like many core DC titles, Batman and Wonder Woman make appearances, Jimmy Olsen is kidnapped by a recently escaped Lex Luthor (because of course it would not be a Superman book without a little Lex Luthor), and Lois Lane finds herself in trouble…again. 

Eventually W.R.A.I.T.H. and Superman face off in an absolutely epic battle that spans the globe. The art is incredible and the back and forth between Superman and W.R.A.I.T.H. being allies then adversaries is very intriguing and keeps you on your toes.

W.R.A.I.T.H. tells Superman that he will have to kill him eventually, so you know the flip is coming, but it is still great to see Superman working alongside and learning from another super who absorbs solar energy like him, but who has been on earth longer and has learned ways to use it that Superman has not. There are some other interesting plot points that we will not spoil here, but believe me, this is a very enjoyable read.  The story is complex, but not to the point where you get lost in the details and have a hard time following along.

And the art…it is classic Jim Lee.

Superman looks fantastic as always, and W.R.A.I.T.H. is a jacked up blue-skinned version of this that appears to have lava flowing through his veins.  All in all, very badass!!!

Lagavulin and Superman are a Great Way to Get Started in Comic and Whisky Pairings

Superman Unchained and Lagavulin 16 were such a great pairing that we decided that this would be our first article that we posted on our site.  We wanted the initial post to be accessible, something that everyone would be able to read and at least have a basic understanding of the character and the whisky. 

Lagavulin, and especially the 16 year old expression have been getting more and more popular, thanks in part to Parks and Rec and Ron Swanson, portrayed perfectly by Nick Offerman.

We won’t always be writing about super popular comics and whiskies, but for the inaugural post, we wanted to start things off with a bang! And we couldn’t think of a better pairing than the original superhero and the standard bearer of Islay whiskies. 

Get Even Geekier with Us on Our YouTube Channel

If you can believe it, we have even more to say about how well Lagavulin 16 and Superman Unchained go together.

In the video below, we get even geekier, discussing this book and drinking some Lagavulin 16.  We also give out our Canadian Whiskey Geeks (CWG) grading of the book, the whisky, and the pairing, and we talk about a few other fun things as well. After all, scotch and stories were made for each other. 

Sláinte

P.S Subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay on top of whiskey tastings, comic book reviews, and a plethora of content on related topics too.

2 Comments

  • Whisky Dad

    All I wanted to know about comics and then some! What a thorough and enjoyable read. Now, where can I get a copy since I’m not supposed to use Amazon? And I think I need The Mighty Thor as well! Slainte!

    • Alex

      Thanks…and we suggest that you try Heroes Comics in London, ON (www.https://heroescomics.ca/). They have a great inventory of back issues and trade paperbacks, and if you send them an email they will find what you’re looking for and ship it to you!

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