The large eddy simulation (LES) technique will soon be 50 years old. Since Deardorff’s first papers in 1970 introducing this approach, major advances in the theory of LES and its computational implementation have been made and widely adopted. However, in terms of validation, LES studies continue to largely focus on the first- and second-order statistics, which in fact are the same tests that Deardorff conducted 45 years ago. Further advances in LES and wider adoption for new flows require advanced and more challenging tests to be developed and documented to serve as benchmarks. The paper by Stevens, Wilczek & Meneveau (J. Fluid Mech., 2014, vol. 757, pp. 888–907) does precisely that. The authors demonstrate the ability of LES to capture the recently established log-law of streamwise velocity variance and the related log-laws for even-order statistics up to order 10, as well as the departure of these statistics from a Gaussian distribution. The paper also provides key insights into the role of grid resolution on the computed turbulence field.