Laphroiag Islay Whisky Distillery
Situated on the south coast of the world famous whisky producing island of Islay, Laphroaig was legally founded just one year before its neighbour at Lagavulin in 1815. The distillery was founded by Donald and Alexander Johnston the former of which bought out Alexander in 1836 but tragedy was to follow in 1847 when Donald was killed when he fell into a vat of not yet distilled whisky. This is a very usual story as most deaths related at whisky distilleries were normally the result of fires. If you are going to go why not in a whisky vat! Donald left his son Dugald the distillery in his will however, Dugald was only 11 years old at the time of his death and Walter Graham from the neighbouring distillery of Lagavulin leased the distillery until Dugald was old enough to take over Laphroaig. Dugald duly took over management until he himself passed away in 1877 leaving it in the hands of his brother in law whose son Ian Hunter later took over in 1921 and increased the capacity at Laphroaig doubling the number of stills to 4. It was also Hunter who managed to get Laphroaig accepted by American officials during prohibition as a ‘medicinal’ product.
Although one of the owners falling to his death at the distillery was talked about for years in the whisky community what was to happen next really was going to get the tongues wagging. A university graduate turned up at Laphroaig by the name of Bessie Williamson to learn the art of whisky distillation. By 1954 she had learn her trade an inherited the distillery in 1954 at a time when women rarely held ownership of whisky distilleries. Bessie understood the investment Laphroaig would require and sold the distiller to Long John International in the 1960’s however she continued to manage Laphroaig until 1972 meaning she was at the distillery for 40 years.
Long John International changed to Whitbread & Co and then to Allied Distillers in the 1990’s when it also received a Royal Warrant. Laphroaig is now owned by Fortune Brands Inc.
Laphroaig single malt scotch whisky is now in the top 5 bestselling single malts in the UK market however only 10% is used for single malt. Most whisky produced at Laphroaig goes into Islay Mist, Long John, and Black Bottle.
Taste: Not for the new comer of faint hearted, this is industrial strength whisky peated to the max and iodine bursting out of the bottle. Some love it some hate it, referred to as diesel by those who hate it. If you are an Islay whisky fan you cannot leave this one out. This is the daddy.