Laphroaig Whisky Distillery & Story
How the Laphroaig Whisky Distillery story began
Laphroaig whisky distillery founded by brothers Alex & Donald Johnston in 1815.
During 1836 the Laphroaig (lah-froyg) distillery became under the sole ownership of Donald Johnston. Unfortunately Donald died after falling into a vat of part-processed whisky in 1847.
His son Dougald was too young to take over so the distillery was temporarily leased to Walter Graham.
In 1857 Dougald Johnston takes over and runs the distillery until his death in 1877. Leaving the distillery to his sister and brother in law Alexander.
On Alexander Johnston passing in 1907 the distillery is inherited by his two sisters Catherine Johnston and Mrs William Hunter. The following year Ian Hunter joins the firm to assist his mother and Aunt.
Laphroaig was allowed in to the USA as a “medicinal spirit” during prohibition. Ian Hunter, the owner at the time, gave some US officials some samples of his malt whisky the iodine medicinal flavours won them over.
A new pair of stills, now 4, are added in 1924.
At some point in 1927 Catherine Johnston dies and Ian Hunter takes over.
During the 1930s Bessie Williamson arrives to take up a temporary job at the distillery that lasts for forty years.
Over the following years Ian Hunter passes over his “knowledge” as he sees her as the one person to carry on the Laphroaig tradition. On his death Bessie Williamson inherits distillery in 1954.
Being pragmatic Bessie knew for Laphroaig to grow it would require support and resources that only the large companies have. So during 1962 sold the distillery to Long John International.
An extra still is added in 1967 now 5.
During 1972 Bessie Williamson retires. Two more stills are added bringing the total to 7.
Long John International are sold to Whitbread & Co in 1975.
Who in turn sells its spirit division, along with the Laphroaig distillery, to Allied Distillers in 1989.
Prince Charles visits and awards the distillery his Royal Warrant in 1994.
The distillery is taken over by Fortune Brands Inc in 2005.
Laphroaig Whisky Distillery
Founded in 1815 by Alex & Donald Johnston.
Location; Islay region, south shore district.
Water source; Kilbride Loch.
Laphroaig Whisky Distillery Equipment;
Original floor maltings and 2 peat kiln. This supplies 15% of the malt, 70% from Port Ellen and 15% from the mainland.
Stainless steel lauter mash tun.
6 Stainless steel washbacks.
7 Stills unusual combination of 3 wash stills and 4 spirit stills.
They are “nipped in” at the waist, narrow necked with long, thin, lyne arms on the wash stills slope upwards at a pronounced angle.
The condensers are located behind. The stills where originally built by McDonalds of Edinburgh.
Matured in first fill American oak bourbon hogsheads in 8 dunnage warehouses on the seashore.
This is an Islay whisky at industrial strength.
With tasting notes of medicinal, TCP mouthwash, phenolic. Iodine-like, seaweedy, tar smoke and peat with a hint of estery sweetness.
Even if the tasting notes are for Diesel. This smokey peaty malt whisky is one of the best five sellers in the UK.
Johnston name still appears on label.
Our Top 3 Laphroaig whiskies
Take a tour of the Laphroaig Whisky Distillery
The Laphroaig Whisky Distillery visitors centre is well worth a visit and regularly run guided tours of the distillery throughout the course of the day. A number of the tours include tasting sessions where you can sample some of the drams they have to offer.
The Laphroaig Whisky Distillery Core Range Consits of:
Standard 10 year old at 40% plus a 10 year old at cask strength.
Among the limited releases there are a Triple Wood, PX and a 25 year old.
The distillery also releases a Feis Isle Carideas for Islay whisky festivals.