Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The short history of nearly everything Laphroaig
On the far edge of the Scotch whisky map, it supposed that Irish monks were the first that brought the art of distillation to Islay. Being remote, it’s an art that flourished in the hands of the islanders, whose illegal operations tested the resolve and means of the tax man. Eventually, the law relaxed, various whisky makers set up legitimate distilleries, among them a pair of farmers, Donald and Alexander Johnston, who in 1815 founded their distillery on the island’s south coast. Laphroaig, so called after its location, ‘broad hollow by the bay.’ It would remain in family hands for the next 139 years. Find out more about the history of Laphroaig below, using the scroller on the timeline to travel back in time.
PASSION, PASSED ON
Our distillery managers will pass down our whisky making tradition. This culture happened since the first drop rolled off the still in 1815. Ian Hunter, Bessie Williamson, John MacDougal, Denise Nicole, Iain Henderson and the incumbent John Campbell were all protective custodians of the art of Laphroaig.
Each brought their own influence, of course, but all respected the unique elements that make Laphroaig the whisky it is. The Kilbride Stream, hand-cut peat, floor malted barley, cold-smoking kilns, mash tuns, copper alchemy and the subtlety of oak aging. Each and every stage crucial in producing the most richly flavored of all Scotch whiskies.
Whisky needs water. As well as being a key ingredient, it serves as a coolant throughout our whisky making process, and importantly for us, it provides flavor. It’s soft, peated and non-mineralised. We used it to mash the barley. Furthermore, it helps to bring the spirit’s strength down once we took it off the still. In addition, if it is not destined to become a cask-strength expression, we need to bring down the strength. We will reduce the whisky before it’s bottled. It cools the ‘wort’ in preparation for fermentation. Moreover, we use it to condense the spirit’s vapours back to liquid during the fermentation process.
We are fortunate enough to have a plentiful supply of peaty water by the way of the nearby Kilbride Stream. Moreover, it is which we once had to protect against the intentions of other distilliers. They had re-routed it for reasons that failed to convince the courts, and which we had dammed in the 1930s. Consequently, we source all our waters from Kilbride Reservoir – our very own supply.
PEAT CUTTING BED
We hand-cut our peat the traditional way because it’s not mud, it’s flavour.
Islay is particularly famous for its peated single malt whiskies. This is partly because its peat bogs are unlike those of mainland Scotland. Having never really had expansive forests or thickets, our peat – historically the only fuel available for the drying out of our malted barley. However, it is made up of a much higher ratio of Sphagnum (or ‘peat moss’ to you and I), and it’s the moss that’s responsible for Islay whisky’s medicinal taste. Of course, depending on location, no peat bog on Islay is exactly the same either.
This is a fact especially true of our own Glenmachrie peat bog. In addition, its particular mix of heather, lichen and moss responsible for our smoky, iodine-like and medicinal profile. Vital to everything that constitutes a Laphroaig. Moreover, we take good care of our peat beds, hand-cutting the peat and periodically replenishing the beds. Too wet to burn immediately, we dry the peat out for three months.