P.S. At the risk of sounding blasphemous: I think I may actually prefer this over the 18-year-old...
Less peaty and more soft-mannered than the 2019. A lot of honey, maize, and fragrant floral notes, but always accompanied by the typical notes of brine, kelp, iodine-soaked bandages, and beach bonfire. To me this seems older than 16 (going on 18) - either an effect of more active casks or older / more mellowed-out components in the mix. Really good, and displaying the complexity I missed in the earlier release. Immaculate and, for lack of a better word: classic. You could nose this for quite some time without getting bored.
The mouthfeel could be fuller and oilier, I'll say that much. Definitely had greasier Laphroaigs at the same strength. However, you can't argue with the flavor profile or delivery. Starts off sweet-and-sour, then come the oak spices and the pepper, the smoke keeps building up, and it all crescendoes in a huge waft of kiln smoke, containing all the usual maritime associations. Smoked fish sprinkled with sea salt, cucumber brine and lime juice? It's just weird that the 48% feel more like 43%. If the liquid was a bit thicker, I'd go for 90.
Smoky. Salty. Sweet. Leaves an oily film on the tongue/teeth/lips (ah, there's the grease...). Virtually interminable.