Laphroaig

Laphroaig (pronounced 'La-froig') means 'the beautiful hollow by a broad bay' in Gaelic. The area around the distillery, which is located on the remote island of Islay (pronounced 'Ei-la') off the west coast of Scotland, is just as beautiful. Laphroaig Whiskies are considered the most smoky-intense malt Whiskies from Scotland.

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Information about the Distillery
517 Bottles
Scotland, Islay
-6.152214 55.630212
Active
Fortune-Brands
3 x 10,900 l
Normal
3 x 3,640 l
1 x 7,280 l
Normal
6 x 42,000 l
9 t
1815
3,300,000 l
http://www.laphroaig.com/
Average tasting notes Tasting notes
i
Nosing
Peat Smoke:
Peat Smoke:
Sweet:
Maritime Notes:
Sweet:
Maritime Notes:
Medicinal Smoke:
Medicinal Smoke:
Seaweed:
Seaweed:
Fruit:
Iodine:
Iodine:
Vanilla:
Vanilla:
Sherry:
Oak:
Oak:
Spices:
Bonfire Smoke:
Salt:
Salt:
Bonfire Smoke:
Sherry:
Fruit:
Spices:
Herbs:
Zitrus:
Herbs:
Ham:
Zitrus:
Ham:
Herb:
Malt:
Herb:
Malt:
Caramel:
Caramel:
Honey:
Honey:
Heather:
Heather:
Leather:
Leather:
Alcohol:
Alcohol:
Nuts:
Pepper:
Pepper:
Dried Fruit:
Dried Fruit:
Banana:
Banana:
Lemon:
Lemon:
Nuts:
Apple:
Apple:
Chocolate:
Chocolate:
Floral:
Floral:
Raisin:
Tobacco:
Tobacco:
Raisin:
Orange:
Orange:
Berries:
Berries:
Cinnamon:
Cinnamon:
Dark Chocolate:
Dark Chocolate:
Mint:
Mint:
Barley:
Barley:
Pear:
Pear:
Grass:
Oil:
Oil:
Grass:
Hay:
Hay:
Date:
Date:
Wheat:
Wheat:
Fig:
Fig:
Clove:
Clove:
Almonds:
Almonds:
Pineapple:
Pineapple:
Grape:
Grape:
Coconut:
Coconut:
Nutmeg:
Nutmeg:
Grapefruit:
Grapefruit:
Peach:
Peach:
Lemon Peel:
Lemon Peel:
Cherry:
Cherry:
Ginger:
Tropical Fruit:
Tropical Fruit:
Ginger:
Anis:
Green Apple:
Green Apple:
Chili:
Chili:
Blackberry:
Blackberry:
Coffee:
Plum:
Plum:
Coffee:
Cake:
Cake:
Lime:
Hazelnut:
Walnut:
Hazelnut:
Lime:
Walnut:
Red Currant:
Red Currant:
Black Currant:
Rye:
Rye:
Black Currant:
Melon:
Melon:
Strawberry:
Strawberry:
Kiwi:
Kiwi:
Tasting
Peat Smoke:
Peat Smoke:
Sweet:
Sweet:
Maritime Notes:
Maritime Notes:
Seaweed:
Seaweed:
Medicinal Smoke:
Medicinal Smoke:
Spices:
Oak:
Oak:
Spices:
Salt:
Salt:
Fruit:
Sherry:
Sherry:
Vanilla:
Bonfire Smoke:
Bonfire Smoke:
Vanilla:
Fruit:
Iodine:
Iodine:
Malt:
Malt:
Herb:
Nuts:
Herb:
Herbs:
Herbs:
Pepper:
Pepper:
Chili:
Chili:
Oil:
Oil:
Heather:
Zitrus:
Heather:
Ham:
Ham:
Honey:
Zitrus:
Honey:
Caramel:
Caramel:
Alcohol:
Alcohol:
Leather:
Leather:
Chocolate:
Chocolate:
Dark Chocolate:
Dark Chocolate:
Dried Fruit:
Dried Fruit:
Tobacco:
Tobacco:
Lemon:
Lemon:
Nuts:
Coffee:
Coffee:
Banana:
Banana:
Orange:
Orange:
Cinnamon:
Cinnamon:
Raisin:
Raisin:
Berries:
Berries:
Pear:
Pear:
Apple:
Apple:
Grass:
Grass:
Floral:
Floral:
Clove:
Clove:
Tropical Fruit:
Tropical Fruit:
Ginger:
Ginger:
Peach:
Peach:
Mint:
Mint:
Date:
Date:
Nutmeg:
Lemon Peel:
Nutmeg:
Cherry:
Cherry:
Pineapple:
Lemon Peel:
Plum:
Plum:
Grapefruit:
Fig:
Grapefruit:
Pineapple:
Fig:
Almonds:
Cake:
Cake:
Almonds:
Blackberry:
Blackberry:
Green Apple:
Green Apple:
Barley:
Barley:
Hazelnut:
Grape:
Anis:
Grape:
Hazelnut:
Coconut:
Coconut:
Lime:
Black Currant:
Black Currant:
Lime:
Melon:
Melon:
Walnut:
Walnut:
Hay:
Hay:
Red Currant:
Red Currant:
Kiwi:
Strawberry:
Kiwi:
Strawberry:
Finish
Peat Smoke:
Peat Smoke:
Sweet:
Sweet:
Maritime Notes:
Maritime Notes:
Oak:
Oak:
Spices:
Seaweed:
Seaweed:
Spices:
Medicinal Smoke:
Medicinal Smoke:
Salt:
Salt:
Herb:
Herb:
Malt:
Malt:
Sherry:
Sherry:
Bonfire Smoke:
Bonfire Smoke:
Nuts:
Iodine:
Iodine:
Fruit:
Oil:
Oil:
Pepper:
Pepper:
Herbs:
Fruit:
Ham:
Ham:
Alcohol:
Alcohol:
Herbs:
Zitrus:
Leather:
Leather:
Vanilla:
Vanilla:
Dark Chocolate:
Dark Chocolate:
Chili:
Chili:
Zitrus:
Heather:
Heather:
Tobacco:
Tobacco:
Nuts:
Caramel:
Caramel:
Honey:
Honey:
Chocolate:
Chocolate:
Coffee:
Coffee:
Dried Fruit:
Dried Fruit:
Banana:
Banana:
Orange:
Orange:
Nutmeg:
Nutmeg:
Almonds:
Almonds:
Lemon:
Lemon:
Hay:
Hay:
Apple:
Cinnamon:
Cinnamon:
Apple:
Mint:
Pear:
Ginger:
Mint:
Ginger:
Pear:
Floral:
Floral:
Berries:
Berries:
Plum:
Barley:
Wheat:
Wheat:
Plum:
Barley:
Raisin:
Clove:
Raisin:
Clove:
Grass:
Grass:
Lemon Peel:
Peach:
Lemon Peel:
Peach:
Cake:
Walnut:
Walnut:
Cake:
Tropical Fruit:
Tropical Fruit:
Blackberry:
Blackberry:
Cherry:
Cherry:
Anis:
Grape:
Grape:
Black Currant:
Pineapple:
Coconut:
Fig:
Grapefruit:
Pineapple:
Black Currant:
Fig:
Coconut:
Grapefruit:
Green Apple:
Date:
Hazelnut:
Date:
Hazelnut:
Green Apple:
Details about the Distillery

The Whisky

The Islay distillery of Laphroaig has a very extensive range of official bottlings, which includes a variety of ages and different flavours. The official range consists of a 10 year old, the Laphroaig Select, various cask strength bottlings, a Quarter Cask, a 15 year old, an 18 year old, a 25 year old bottling, a Triple Wood, a PX cask. The latter was stored in former Pedro Ximenez casks and QA casks. This means that the bottling was matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon and charred American white oak casks. The official range also includes an An Cuan bottling (which translates as Big Ocean), which is the only bottling at the distillery that is filled entirely in first-fill only ex-American White Oak casks. The Laphroaig Lore, which stands for the passing on of knowledge and tradition, is also part of the standard range. There are also high-quality bottlings from independent bottlers.

A few years ago, there was a double-matured Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014, which was initially matured in ex-Bourbon casks, and then moved to Amontillado hogsheads for a year. Laphroaig has a reputation for having incredibly distinct and individual bottlings, which this current official range absolutely represents.

Laphroaig is consistently the highest-selling Whisky on Islay, which is particularly impressive when you take into account the fact that the Whisky has such a distinctive and strong flavour. 

The Production

Laphroaig proudly presents itself as the most strongly flavored of all Scottish Whiskies. The production process of the distillery is distinctly structured to achieve this. The site has a production capacity of 3.3 million liters. The water used in the production of Laphroaig is drawn from the Kilbride dam, into which the Kilbride stream flows.

The Pot Stills

Most distilleries have an equal number of wash and spirit stills, but Laphroaig has three wash stills and four spirit stills.  The reason for this was that Laphroaig had to distil slower on the spirit still than on the wash still for the special distillery style. As a result, one wash still was not running at times. Bessie Williamson, who took over the distillery in the mid-1950s, thought this was inefficient. She prevailed over the conservative distillery team and had an additional spirit still of the same shape but twice the size installed.

The three wash stills have a capacity of 10.400 liters, while three of the spirit stills have a capacity of 4.700 liters, and one has a capacity of 9.400 liters. The wash stills at Laphroaig have the common shape of an onion, but then surge upward into very tall conical necks. The extra height on the pot stills helps to increase the amount of reflux in the stills. The spirit stills also have an unusual shape, with flat bases and a very narrow constricting 'strangling' in the intermediate section of the still. This results in a more intense interaction between the spirit and the copper of the still. The stocky shape of the bases of the pot stills, and the tall necks of the wash stills helps contribute to the unique smooth character of the taste of Laphroaig.

The Maltings

The peat used to dry the malt in the production of Laphroaig is taken from a moor on Islay itself. The distillery actually still utilizes it's own maltings floor for a part of the production. A rare feat for a distillery of it's size in the modern age. That being said, Laphroaig does source about 80% of it's malt from the Port Ellen maltings, which is located not far away on the south of Islay. The malts used in the production of Laphroaig are very heavily peated - the Single Malt is actually nic-named 'peat monster' due to the potent nature of its taste.

Once at Laphroaig, the barley grain is soaked in water for two days to increase the amount of water in the grain. It is then spread out in the malt floor for about six days until it begins to germinate and starch is converted into sugar. During this process, the grain must be turned frequently to avoid mould and lumping. Temperatures are kept low so that this process does not happen too quickly.

Smoking at Laphroaig takes about 10 to 12 hours with peat moss, which used to be known as an antiseptic. It gives the malt the medicinal character typical of the distillery.

The Masching

After drying, the malt is coarsely milled and sprinkled with hot water in the mash tun. Almost all of the starch is converted into sugar by enzymes. In the end, you get two times 25,000 litres of mash.

The Fermentation

The distillery uses eight stainless steel washbacks, each with a capacity of 55,000 litres. These are filled twice with the contents of the mash tun and liquid yeast is used. The fermentation time has been extended over time and is now 72 hours. To compensate for this long time, two more washbacks were installed outside the distillery.

The Warehouses

Over 90% of the barrels that are used at Laphroaig are American white oak first fill Bourbon barrels. Ian Hunter, a previous distillery manager, pioneered the use of these barrels back in the 1930s. Hunter found that American White Oak barrels gave exactly the right kind of the flavor that would compliment the Laphroaig Single Malt. The distillery also uses tiny quarter casks that are used in the Quarter cask expression. 

Laphroaig has mixed warehouses located right next to the sea, on the distillery property: two dunnage warehouses, including the famous Warehouse No. 1, where you can also have tastings, and ten racked warehouses. Once a cask is deemed to be fully matured, it is bottled in the bottling plant.

The distillery's location, with its maritime climate and high humidity, means that it only loses about 1.8 % Angel's Share per year. In other parts of Scotland, the loss can be up to 2.0 %, which makes quite a difference when measured against the storage period.

The History

Laphroaig distillery was officially founded in 1815, although rumor say that the brothers Alexander and Donald Johnston actually built the site in 1810, when they started farming in the area. However, distillery dates in the nineteenth century, especially the early part of the century, should be taken with a pinch or two of salt. The distillery wasn't officially registered until 1826, although we know for sure that the distillery was active for at least 9 years before this. Donald and Alexander operated the distillery together successfully until 1836, at which point Donald bought out Alexander and took complete control of the operation. In 1847, Donald Johnson is tragically killed in an accident at the distillery. Walter Graham, the manager of the neighboring Lagavulin distillery, took over control of the operations. Ten years later, in 1847, Donald's son, Dugald took over control of the distillery, returning Laphroaig to the Johnston family. When Dugald died in 1877, he was without an heir, so control of the distillery passed to his sister Isabella, who was married to their cousin, Alexander. 

After both Isabella and Alexander passed away, the distillery continued in the Johnston family, passing to both of Alexanders' sisters, Catherine and Isabella. In 1908, Ian Hunter, arrived on Islay to assist his aunt and mother with the running of the distillery. Hunter was to have an enormous input into the distillery's future. In 1923, Hunter increased the number of stills from two to four at the site, and in 1928, when Isabella and Catherine both passed away, Hunter became the sole owner of the company. In 1950, Ian Hunter formed D Johnston & Company, who became the owners of Laphroaig. Four years later, in 1954, Hunter passed away, and his long-time PA and Secretary, Bessie Williamson, took control of the site. In 1967, Seager Evans bought the site, which marked the fist time that a real 'outsider' took control of the distillery. In 1975, Whitbread & Co bought Seager Evans, gaining itself control of Laphroaig. In 1989, the distillery changed hands again, when the spirit division of Whitbread was sold to Allied Distillers.

In 1994, Prince Charles gave the Royal Warrant to Laphroaig, an extremely significant moment for any distillery.

In 2005, Fortune Brands, owners of Jim Beam Brands bought the site, which went public later on. Jim Beam Brands was taken over by Suntory Holdings in 2014 which is managing the distillery today.

The Visitor Centre

Laphroaig distillery has an impressive visitor's centre, which includes the opportunity to tour the facilities, as well as a gift shop, and café.

Visitor information

Distillery Address:

The Laphroaig Distillery
Port Ellen
Isle of Islay PA42 7DU
Tel: +44 1496-302418
Email: tourbookings@remove-this.laphroaig.com 

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