Laphroaig was established in 1815 and means broad hollow by the bay reflecting its location in the south of Islay. It was probably Irish monks who brought whisky making techniques to Scotland and nearby Islay would have been a likely stop off en route to the mainland. The island had a long history of illicit whisky production prior to the 1800’s.
Unlike most distilleries in Scotland, Laprhroaig malts its own barley on floor maltings. The peat used in the drying process is from the south of the island. This was area was once submerged under the sea. The peat has a large seaweed component which comes through in the whisky character. All Laphroaig whisky is matured on the island reflecting tradition but in addition maturation conditions are different to that of the mainland.
Alfred Barnard toured Scotland’s Distilleries in the late 1800’s including Laphroaig. He was clearly impressed and noted that a distillery’s location and water source largely influenced a whisky’s character stating “No better instance of this can be given then the case of Lagavulin and Laphroaig Distilleries, which although situated within a short distance of one another, each produce Whisky of a distinct and varied type”.
For many years Bessie Williamson, one of the first female distillers in the whisky industry took over Laphroaig in 1954. Under her stewardship the whisky became more internationally recognised. In 1994 the company was granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment to the Prince of Wales. A Royal Warrant is a mark of recognition to companies who have supplied the royal household.
Laphroaig Distillery Tours and Tastings
In normal times, the distillery offers a number of tours and tastings which may come back in some form in the future. The Water to Whisky Experience includes distillery tour, water source visit, peat banks visit and cask tasting including a bottle of your favourite one. The Taste of Friendship is a tasting of Laphroaig expressions and celebrates the Friends of Laphroaig scheme.
There are cluster of distilleries on Islay making it an ideal for a whisky tour. Other Islay distilleries include Bowmore, Ardbeg and Bunnahabhain. See the Islay Whisky Tour page for more itinerary ideas.