Laphroaig distillery

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Laphroaig Whisky
Laphroaig Whisky
Region: Islay
LocationPort Ellen
OwnerBeam Suntory
Water sourceThe Kilbride Dam
No. of stills3 wash
4 spirit[2]
Capacity3,300,000 litres[3]
10-year-old (cask strength)
Quarter Cask
Cairdeas Quarter Cask
Triple Wood
PX Cask
QA Cask
15-year-old (re-released 2015)[4]
18-year-old (discontinued 2015)[5]
Cask type(s)American Oak Bourbon
Oak Quarter Cask
European Oak Oloroso sherry

Coordinates: 55°37′47.6″N 06°09′08.4″W / 55.629889°N 6.152333°W / 55.629889; -6.152333

Laphroaig distillery (/ləˈfrɔɪɡ/ (About this soundlisten) lə-FROYG)[6] is an Islay single malt Scotch whisky distillery. It is named after the area of land at the head of Loch Laphroaig on the south coast of the island of Islay. The meaning of the toponym is unknown, but a commonly suggested etymology includes the elements "lag" (Gaelic: hollow), "breid" (Norse: 'breidd' breadth) and "vik" (Norse: 'vík' bay), implying an original Gaelic form something like "Lag Bhròdhaig" (the hollow of Broadbay). The name may be related to a placename on the east coast of Islay, "Pròaig", again suggested as meaning "broad bay". The distillery and brand are owned and operated by Beam Suntory, the American subsidiary of Japan's Suntory Holdings.[7]


The Laphroaig distillery was established in 1815 by Donald and Alexander Johnston.[1] The Johnstons who founded Laphroaig were from the Clan Donald and are likely to be from the MacIain of Ardnamurchan branch of the clan. The family anglicised their name to Johnston.[1] The last member of the Johnston family to run the distillery was Ian Hunter, a nephew of Sandy Johnston, who died childless in 1954 and left the distillery to one of his managers, Bessie Williamson.

The distillery was sold to Long John International in the 1960s, and subsequently became part of Allied Domecq.[8] The brand was in turn acquired by Fortune Brands in 2005, as one of the brands divested by Pernod Ricard in order to obtain regulatory approval for its takeover of Allied Domecq. Fortune Brands then split up its business product lines in 2011, forming its spirits business into Beam Inc. Beam was then purchased by Suntory Holdings in April 2014.

Laphroaig has been the only whisky to carry the Royal Warrant of the Prince of Wales, which was awarded in person during a visit to the distillery in 1994. The distillery identifies Charles by his title of Duke of Rothesay, as he is recognised in Scotland. The 15-year-old is reportedly the prince's favourite Scotch whisky.


A distinctive "pagoda" style kiln chimney at Laphroaig
Laphroaig 30-year-old and 25-year-old belong to the distillery's most expensive products.

Laphroaig calls itself "the most richly flavoured of all Scotch whiskies", and is most frequently aged to 10 years, although the 15-year-old variety is common (the 27-, 30- and 40-year-olds are rare and expensive; the 18-year-old was discontinued in late 2015).[5] The whisky has a peaty/smoky flavour.

The Laphroaig Quarter Cask was introduced in 2004. This expression is aged in smaller casks and is not chill filtered[citation needed]. Due to the smaller barrels used, the oak surface contact is 30% greater than with standard barrels. The company describes the effect of this as "creating a soft and velvety edge".[8] The Quarter Cask is bottled at 48% ABV (96 proof).[9] The 10-year-old standard-bearer is bottled at 40% or 43% ABV, depending on the local market.[9]

There are also expressions now selling in Travel Retail: Laphroaig QA cask (matured in ex-bourbon barrels and virgin American oak casks), Laphroaig PX cask (matured in three types of wood – from American oak to Quarter Cask to Pedro Ximenez ex-sherry), Laphroaig An Cuan Mor – Big Ocean (matured in first-fill bourbon barrels and then in European oak).

Friends of Laphroaig[edit]

In 1994 the Friends of Laphroaig Club was established, members of which are granted a lifetime lease of up to 1 square foot (930 cm2) per person of Laphroaig land on the island of Islay. The annual royalty from owning a plot is a dram of Laphroaig which can be obtained upon visiting the distillery.[10]


In early 2016, Scottish poet Elvis McGonagall began appearing in online ads, reciting his own poetry as he humorously discussed the correct pronunciation of Laphroaig whisky.[11]


  • John MacDougall 1970-74
  • Dennis Nicol 1974-80
  • Murdo Reed 1980-87
  • Colin Ross 1987-89
  • Ian Henderson 1989-2002
  • Robin Sheilds 2003-2005
  • John Campbell 2006-present

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c "History". Laphroaig Collector. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Laphroaig".
  3. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Laphroaig 15yo - 200th Anniversary - Whisky + Tailor". 23 May 2015.
  5. ^ a b Noah Rothbaum, "How to Survive a Single-Malt Drought", Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2016.
  6. ^ John Butler. "Pronunciation of Scotch Whiskys". School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 19 April 2006.
  7. ^ News, ABC. "Business Index". ABC News.
  8. ^ a b "Laphroaig Website (updated in 2011)".
  9. ^ a b Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion, Edition 6, page 307. ISBN 978-1-4053-1966-9
  10. ^ "Friends of Laphroaig". Laphroaig. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  11. ^ Laphroaig Whisky (20 January 2016). "A Burns Night Ode to Laphroaig by Elvis McGonagall" – via YouTube.


External links[edit]