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?
Islay Distillery Map
Laphroaig Distillery Tours, Pricing & Bookings
Laphroaig Distillery are currently not offering distillery tours, however, tastings are available. All visits to the distillery must be booked in advance at the moment, including if you'd just like to visit the distillery shop. Online bookings are available, otherwise telephone: (+44) 01496 302418 or email email@example.com.
November and December 2021, closed Monday and Tuesday's. Christmas season, closed 12:30pm Friday 17th December
Shop open 29th, 30th, 31st December 10:00-16:00. Reopen from Monday 10th January 2022.
Warehouse 1 Tasting
Sample 3 Laphroaig whiskies straight from the cask inside Warehouse 1 (see photos below). Once you've explored the flavours and character of all three, pick your favourite and handfill a 250ml bottle to take home. This tasting includes a trip to the Visitor Centre and Shop (so you don't need to book that separately). Maximum 4 persons per tasting, £60.00 per person, approximately 60 minutes duration.
Laphroaig Distillery Images
What Else Is Nearby
There are a small number of hotel options near Laphroaig, specifically in Port Ellen, one of the main towns on Islay, though you'll find the broadest accommodation selection via Airbnb. Port Ellen is easy to get around on foot, and there are several restaurants and cafes, as well as a supermarket and a post office, which makes it a convenient location for families or those reliant on public transport.
References & Further Reading
- Alfred Barnard, The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, first published in 1887 by Harpers Weekly Gazette
- Ian Buxton, Whiskies Galore : A Tour of Scotland's Island Distilleries,
- Neil Wilson, The Island Whisky Trail : An Illustrated Guide to the Hebridean Whisky Distilleries,