07 Mar Laphroaig Distillery
Laphroaig Distillery is one of few distilleries in Scotland who still malt some of their barley on site, and even rarer again, they continue to hand cut their own peat.
Laphroaig is also the only whisky distillery awarded a Royal Warrant by Prince Charles, issued during his first visit to the distillery in 1994. He followed up with a repeat visit in 2008 as part of his 60th birthday celebrations.
You'll find Laphroaig Distillery nestled in woodland, 1.8 miles from Port Ellen, the first of three distilleries on Islay's south east-coast line (the other two being Lagavulin and Ardbeg) it is well worth a tour if you're visiting Islay.
How to Pronounce Laphroaig
How to pronounce Laphroaig, courtesy of Brian Cox ...
Laphroaig (and Ardbeg) can be quite polarising, even for peat freaks. Laphroaig have skillfully utilised the love/hate relationship people tend to have with their whisky in a campaign that goes by the tag "Opinions Welcome" (#OpinionsWelcome).
My family have prohibited me from opening Laphroaig 10 in their house - the vapours seem to encroach upon their personal space, and they do not approve. Laphroaig was the first Scotch single malt I ever tried, and I almost didn't try another single malt whisky after that. I don't mind a Laphroaig 10 nowadays, though my personal favourite is the Laphroaig Triple Wood.
Ralfy has reviewed Laphroaig 10 more than most other bottlings - 5 times in 8 years (see reviews 30, 272, 501 and 575 in addition to 686 below) - partly because he considers it a benchmark peated single malt whisky, but also because of the changes to peat intensity over time. The variation can partly be attributed to the evolution of his palate, but is mostly due to factors such as yield from the malted barley grains ("which distillers are ever trying to increase") as well as the age of the whisky relative to the quality of the casks used in the maturation process (first fill vs refill).
He notes that "the prominent feature of Laphroaig is a seashore coastal mineral note, hard to pin down as it's not a specific flavour - it's part of a range of flavour sensations like sweet, sour, salt, bitter and savoury/umami. This umami/savoury sensation is really quite discernible/prominent in Laphroaig; it's one of its main feature characteristics ... particularly at a young age."
In 2017 he described the Laphroaig 10 as having a "raw, vegetal, twiggy, smoke-infused peaty-ness" with "old sultanas that have been in the jar for quite a while".
Where is Laphroaig Distillery?
Laphroaig is the first of three distilleries (Lagavulin and Ardbeg being the other two) on Islay's south-east coastline. It's a short drive (1.8 miles) or a 30-40 min walk from Port Ellen.
Laphroaig Distillery Tours, Pricing & Bookings
For bookings see the Laphroaig Online Booking Calendar else telephone: (+44) 01496 302418. Bookings are highly advisable to avoid disappointment.
Laphroaig Experience Tour - £10 Per Person (1 Hour)
Enjoy a guided tour through the Maltings, Mashing, Stilling and Warehouse. After this tour, select up to 3 whiskies to sample at the Visitor Centre bar. Advanced bookings highly recommended.
Layers of Laphroaig Tasting - £20 Per Person (1 Hour)
Taste and explore the individual cask flavours that are layered to create Laphroaig Select, in the Laphroaig tasting room. Advanced bookings required. Tasting only (tour not included). Over 18's only.
Distillers Wares - £70 Per Person (2 Hours)
Enjoy a tour of the distillery from the malting through to maturation stages. Sample Laphroaig whisky straight from a selection of casks in the warehouse, before using a valinch to bottle your favourite to take home.
Water to Whisky Experience - £110 Per Person (5 Hours)
Available from April to September and strictly limited to 7 participants.
The most extensive Laphroaig whisky distillery experience [this would be my pick!]. Includes a distillery tour, picnic lunch, visit to the Laphroaig water source, and the Laphroaig peat banks. Taste from a selection of 3 casks in the warehouse, before using a valinch to fill a 250ml bottle of your favourite to take home (along with a Laphroaig tasting glass). Bookings essential. Over 18's only.
Become a Friend of Laphroaig (for free) and claim your very own patch of Laphroaig land, as well as a free sample of Laphroaig 10yo to take home with you. You can sign up online or in-person at the distillery.
For more information on tours and distillery opening hours see https://tourbooking.laphroaig.com/index.php
Laphroaig Distillery Images
What Else Is Nearby
References & Further Reading
- Alfred Barnard, The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, 2008 Edition, first published in 1887 by Harpers Weekly Gazette
- Ian Buxton, Whiskies Galore : A Tour of Scotland's Island Distilleries, 2018 Edition
- Neil Wilson, The Island Whisky Trail : An Illustrated Guide to the Hebridean Whisky Distilleries, 2003 Edition