Nick Offerman on Traveling the World, Wooden Ships and His Latest Lagavulin Whisky

"To travel all over the world, touring as a humorist, I continue to grow to love the way local flavors or territorial flavors enrich the dishes and drinks and profiles that places are known for," Offerman tells Observer.

Nick Offerman just released his latest whisky with Lagavulin. Lagavulin Distillery

Though Nick Offerman’s Parks and Recreation alter ego Ron Swanson firmly believes that whisky should be drunk neat and with a cigar (and for the ambitious, with “turf n’ turf,” also known as a 16-ounce T-bone and a 24-ounce porterhouse), the actor is a bit more lenient. He does, however, share a strong affinity for the spirit with his on-screen persona, so it’s fitting that Offerman has embarked on a long-term partnership with Lagavulin. Today (May 6), he is releasing his fourth limited-edition collaboration with the brand: Lagavulin Offerman Edition: Caribbean Rum Cask Finish.

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While Offerman has been involved in the creation of all three of his previous bottlings with Lagavulin, this fourth edition is the first one where he really got to combine his love of whisky with his love of travel. The new bottle features tasting notes inspired by the Caribbean, a region Offerman has been enamored with for some time, combined with flavors of Islay, resulting in a sweet and smoky whisky.

Offerman’s love affair with the Caribbean started when he followed a girlfriend to the Virgin Islands as a young man. Now married to actress Megan Mullally, his passion for the islands and their flavors was reignited in 2022, when he was filming The Resort in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Though his go-to cocktail in San Juan was a Cuba libre, he could never forget about Lagavulin. He and Lagavulin blending master Stuart Morrison had flirted with the idea of using a rum cask for their next edition, but once he was back in the Caribbean soaking up all the rich flavors, the idea was cemented.

The new limited edition spirit is inspired by a combination of the Caribbean and Scotland. Lagavulin Distillery

“Then it falls into his [Morrison’s] lap where he says, ‘Okay, let me take these colors and see what painting I can cook,’ and then we start sampling back and forth, and we arrive at yet another exquisite beverage,” Offerman tells Observer.  

According to Offerman, the new Caribbean rum cask bottling, starting at $90, is a good getaway whisky for novice whisky drinkers and those who might be intimidated by the drink. “If you’re new, I would put it over a couple of ice cubes or just a few drops of spring water. Open it up, as it will take away a little bit of the punch that those of us leathery Lagavulin veterans want,” he explains. “For me, I don’t want it diluted. I want to sip it slowly and let the intense, robust flavors soak in.” 

Fittingly, Offerman’s long-standing relationship with the more than 200-year-old Scotch whisky brand stems from his role on Parks. His character was a fan, and visits Lagavulin’s distillery on the Isle of Islay in Scotland. It eventually turned into a real life, off-screen relationship, with Offerman and Lagavulin partnering up to release special limited editions.

Offerman unveiled his initial release with Lagavulin in 2019; it was an 11-year-old whisky renowned for its robust peat flavor. The second Offerman Edition came two years later; it was also an 11-year-old whisky, with a finish in Guinness casks. That 2021 release earned the top Whisky of the Year honor from Whisky Advocate. 

Ron Swanson would be proud! Lagavulin Distillery

A deep passion for whisky and travel has fueled the continued partnership. This isn’t just another celebrity slapping their name on a bottle (though an illustration of his face is emblazoned on these editions), as Offerman is very hands-on in the creation process. The packaging, for example, features a map of Lagavulin in Scotland as well as of Chicago, with a drawing by the actor. On the back, it includes a note from Offerman explaining how the whisky was produced, along with a fictional story about how he and his crew have sailed the Quercus Alba when they go from Islay to his hometown of Minooka, Illinois.

An accomplished woodworker (he has operated the Offerman Woodshop in East Los Angeles since 2001), Offerman is enamored by sailing on wooden vessels, even serving as the temporary captain of the Pride of Baltimore on the Chesapeake Bay in 2021. Though he romanticizes traveling by sea on a wooden boat, he says his ideal trip is just for the day, and has no desire to take a real multi-week sea voyage—and definitely no cruise ships. 

Offerman’s xylophile background came in handy for the third collaboration with Lagavulin in 2022. Dubbed the three-peat, it’s aged in American red wine and European oak casks that underwent a special shaving down and re-charring process, a departure from previous editions. The result was his most smoky whisky yet.

Lagavulin Offerman Edition: Caribbean Rum Cask Finish. Lagavulin Distillery

Offerman knows he’s quite fortunate when it comes to working with Morrison. “I get to stand at his elbow, and he sort of cooks up seven bonbons and asks me to say which is the yummiest, and then they call that a collaboration. It’s incredible. I’m so spoiled,” Offerman says. 

Offerman sometimes can’t believe how lucky he has been to travel extensively, both for acting and Lagavulin. “To travel all over the world, touring as a humorist, I continue to grow to love the way local flavors or territorial flavors enrich the dishes and drinks and profiles that places are known for,” the Civil War actor tells Observer. He and Mullally are enthusiastic travelers, and have especially loved exploring places including Australia, South Africa, England and Scotland. The couple is particularly besotted by the U.K., so much so that they acquired part of a beef herd in the Lake District of Wales (Swanson would approve), where they escape when they need to get away. 

But if you are unable to get away to the emerald hills of Islay or the sun-kissed shores of the Caribbean, Offerman has curated the perfect evening for you with his new whisky, which he advises is best paired with a dessert such as lemon meringue or key lime pie. “Lemon meringue is the top [choice], but something with a nice acidic citrus bite. The meringue also gives it a sweetness and a little bit of caramelization that will seem like it was formulated together with a particular variety.” And never fully departing from Swanson, he notes that a ribeye is the perfect entree for this night.

Nick Offerman on Traveling the World, Wooden Ships and His Latest Lagavulin Whisky