Laphroaig, pronounced ‘la-froyg’, is Gaelic for “the beautiful hollow by the broad bay”. This town lends it name to the exceptional single malt from the tiny Island of Islay off the west coast of Scotland. The inimitable whisky is distilled and bottled by the original founders of the distillery, D. Johnston & Co. The distillery is located in a broad depression on the south coast of Islay, with its own sea loch and peninsula. It was started in 1815 by two brothers Donald and Alec Johnston.
The distillery remained in the family, regretfully with much infighting. It had the distinction of being run by a lady distiller, Mrs. Bessie Campbell between 1954 and 1972. The whiskey was remarkable successful in America during the Prohibition years of 1920 to 1933. It was imported into the country as a medicinal spirit and certainly raised the spirit of its consumers!
The peat bogs at Laphroaig on the Glenmachrie Peat Moss are responsible for the characteristic peaty flavor of the whisky. Another important contributor to the final product is the water source, the Kilbride Dam. Its soft peaty waters are quite different, even from the other waters around and are guarded jealously by the distillery. It is reportedly perfect for making whisky. Special barley is brought in for the malt and is steeped in the water before the malting process. It is then smoked and dried on peat fired kilns giving it its characteristic flavor.
The traditional distilling process produces a full colored whisky that is considered as one of the five best single malts in the world today. Many of the original buildings including the traditional malting floors remain. It is one of the few distilleries where the malt is turned by hand during the seven day germinating period in order to maintain an even temperature.
The award winning Laphroaig whiskies range from a ten year old to a rare forty year old. It was voted the ‘Best of Best’ in the 2005 Champions of Whisky Competition. The ten year old Laphroaig Islay Malt Whisky is considered to be one of the finest Scotch whiskies. It has a rich pungent flavor dominated by a peat smoke aftertaste that lingers for hours. Many find it too powerful, but like the islanders it needs knowing to be truly appreciated.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask is a ten year that has not been chill filtered. Consequently it tastes as whisky did a hundred years ago. The thirty year old whisky is a mellower, special occasion whisky that has the maturity and flavor that can be expected at its age. The fifteen year-old is said to be the favorite of the Prince of Wales and is the only whisky to carry his Royal Warrant.