Laphroaig distillery

Coordinates: 55°37′48″N 06°09′08″W / 55.63000°N 6.15222°W / 55.63000; -6.15222
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Laphroaig distillery
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)
10-year-old sherry oak finish
Quarter Cask
Cairdeas Quarter Cask
Triple Wood
PX Cask
QA Cask
Sherry Oak Finish
15-year-old (re-released 2015)
18-year-old (discontinued 2015)[4]
Cask type(s)American Oak Bourbon
Oak Quarter Cask
European Oak Oloroso sherry

55°37′48″N 06°09′08″W / 55.63000°N 6.15222°W / 55.63000; -6.15222

Laphroaig distillery (/ləˈfrɔɪɡ/ lə-FROYG)[5] 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 (Scottish Gaelic for 'hollow'), breidd (Old Norse for 'breadth'), and vík (Old Norse for 'bay'), implying an original Gaelic form similar to 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.[6]


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, a Scottish distiller in the 1960s. In 1973, Long John International and the distillery were acquired by Whitbread.[7] In 1989, the distillery was sold by Whitbread to become part of Allied Domecq.[8][9][10] 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.[11] The distillery identifies Charles by his title of Duke of Rothesay, as he is recognised in Scotland. The 15-year-old is reportedly then Prince and now King Charles' favorite 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 Quarter Cask and Triple Wood

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).[4] The whisky has a peaty/smoky flavour. Approximately 10% of their barley is malted on site using hand-cut peat from locations on Islay.

The Laphroaig Quarter Cask was introduced in 2004. This expression is aged in ex-bourbon barrels, is finished in smaller casks, and is not chill filtered.[12] 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".[10] The Quarter Cask is bottled at 48% ABV (96 proof).[13] The 10-year-old standard-bearer is bottled at 40% or 43% ABV, depending on the local market.[13]

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.[14] Friends of Laphroaig was revamped in 2020, from lifetime status to an annualized tier-based system starting in 2021, whereby members gained annual access to club benefits commensurate with points earned under the program's new rules.[15][16]


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.[17]


  • James A. McLennan 1919[18] (formerly manager of the Bowmore distillery)
  • Edward Shaw 1928-32[19] (afterwards manager of the Glenburgie distillery)
  • John MacDougall 1970-74[20] (afterwards manager of Tormore distillery)
  • Dennis Nicol 1974-80
  • Murdo Reed 1980-87 (afterwards manager of Tormore distillery)
  • Colin Ross 1987[21]-89 (formerly manager of the Ben Nevis distillery)
  • Iain Henderson 1989-2002
  • Robin Sheilds 2003-2005
  • John Campbell 2006-2021
  • Barry MacAffer 2021-[22]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c "Our history". Laphroaig distillery. Retrieved 3 February 2023.
  2. ^ "Laphroaig".
  3. ^ "Laphroaig". The Whisky Mag.
  4. ^ a b Noah Rothbaum, "How to Survive a Single-Malt Drought", Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2016.
  5. ^ John Butler. "Pronunciation of Scotch Whiskys". School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 19 April 2006.
  6. ^ "Business Index". ABC News.
  7. ^ Ritchie, Berry (1992). An Uncommon Brewer, the Story of Whitbread. London: James & James. p. 130. ISBN 978-0907383369.
  8. ^ Ritchie, Berry (1992). An Uncommon Brewer, the Story of Whitbread. London: James & James. p. 132. ISBN 978-0907383369.
  9. ^ Ap (23 December 1989). "COMPANY NEWS; Allied-Lyons Is Buying Whitbread Liquor Unit". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Laphroaig Website (updated in 2011)".
  11. ^ The Illustrated London News. Illustrated London News & Sketch Limited. 1997. p. 56.
  12. ^ Roskrow, Dominic; Smith, Gavin D.; Diebel, Juergen; Kergommeaux, Davin de (2012). Whiskey Opus: The World's Greatest Distilleries and Their Whiskey. Penguin. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-4654-0517-3.
  13. ^ a b Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion, Edition 6, page 307. ISBN 978-1-4053-1966-9
  14. ^ "Friends of Laphroaig". Laphroaig. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  15. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions: Friends of Laphroaig Program Changes". Laphroaig. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  16. ^ "Join New Friends of Laphroaig". Laphroaig. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  17. ^ Laphroaig Whisky (20 January 2016). "A Burns Night Ode to Laphroaig by Elvis McGonagall". Archived from the original on 21 December 2021 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ "Distillery Appointment for Dufftown Native". Aberdeen Press and Journal. Scotland. 25 June 1919. Retrieved 5 September 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  19. ^ "Distillery Gifts". Aberdeen Press and Journal. Scotland. 29 March 1974. Retrieved 5 September 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  20. ^ "New Manager for Distillery". Aberdeen Press and Journal. Scotland. 10 April 1974. Retrieved 5 September 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  21. ^ "New manager at Long John's Laphroaig distillery". Aberdeen Press and Journal. Scotland. 31 July 1987. Retrieved 5 September 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  22. ^ "Das Laphroaig Distellerie-Team - Islay Peated Whisky - Laphroaig". Retrieved 13 July 2022.


External links[edit]