About this SPIRIT
Laphroaig Distillery, Islay
Laphroaig (Gaelic for the beautiful hollow by the broad bay) boasts, as its name demands, an idyllic setting for a Distillery, with its own sea loch and peninsula in the south-east of Islay. The distillery was established in 1815 by the brothers Donald and Alec Johnston. Alas one of the founding brothers died in 1847 by drowning in a vat of fermenting wash, and it passed through the family, with much in-fighting along the way.
Laphroaig's peat bogs on the Glenmachrie Peat Moss and its water source, the Kilbride Dam, combines in the distilling process to produce a characteristically peaty and full-coloured whisky. Its unique taste saw it prosper in America during Prohibition (1920-1933) where its import was permitted as a 'medicinal spirit'. Many of the original buildings remain, including the traditional malting floors where the malt is regularly turned by hand to maintain an even temperature throughout the 7-day germination period. Without question one of Scotland's most renowned distilleries.
About 10% of the production is marketed as single malt, the remaining part being incorporated in blend, amongst others Black Bottle and Islay Mist.
After the French group Pernod Ricard took control the previous owners of the distillery, Allied Domecq, in 2005, the Laphroaig distillery was ceased to the American Fortune Brand, owner of amongst others Jack Daniels.
The whisky region of Islay (pronounced eye-la) is arguably the most important 200 or so square miles in the whisky world. On the face of it Islay just another island of the Inner Hebrides. It lies in Argyll just to the west of Jura and around 25 miles north of the Irish coast, which can be seen on a clear day.
The island's fame as far as whisky goes is due to the 8 distilleries currently in production and the vast tracts of peat that cover most of the island's surface. The whisky distilleries are: Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman (this is the newest distillery on the island which started producing spirit in 2005), Lagavulinand Laphroaig.
The 8 distilleries with whisky for sale can be divided up, depending on the amount of peat used. The `big 3' are Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig who all produce powerful smoke laden whiskies. The new malt produced by Kilchoman is also very powerful indeed.
Occupying the middle ground are Bowmore and Caol Ila. The whiskies produced at Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain are in peat terms at least, the lightest.
There were more distilleries in the past: Port Ellen closed in 1983 while the Lochindaal at Port Charlotte closed in1929. The buildings at Port Ellen are however still in use, it is here that malted barley for the island's distilleries is produced.