Photograph: Weston Renoud

Laphroaig Distillery

The Laphroaig distillery (the name means “the beautiful hollow by the broad bay”) was established in 1815, by Alex and Donald Johnston. The ‘Johnston’ brothers were actually McCabes, of the Clan Donald, who changed their names following the failed Jacobite uprising, and settled on the Isle of Islay.

Their descendants ran the distillery until 1887, when it passed to the Hunter family. They in turn ran the distillery until 1954, when Ian Hunter (who had no children) died 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. 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.

Laphroaig has been the only whisky to carry the Royal Warrant of the Prince of Wales (the 15-year-old is reportedly his favourite scotch whisky), which was awarded in person during a visit to the distillery in 1994.


Laphroaig is considered one of the most strongly flavoured of all scotch whiskies, and is generally aged to 10 years, although the 15 year old variety is not uncommon (the 30 and 40 year olds, however, are). Some people find that a drop of water enhances the peaty aroma of this whisky.

In an attempt to re-create the taste of historic whiskies, Laphroaig carried out experiments. Recently the Laphroaig Quarter Cask has been introduced. By using smaller casks and by avoiding chill filtering, the Quarter Cask Single Malt is supposed to taste like the type of whisky that was distilled 100 years ago.

Until 2005, the standard 10 year old bottling contained an alcohol percentage of 43%, after which it was changed to the Scotch whisky standard of 40%.

Friends of Laphroaig

In 1994 the Friends of Laphroaig Club was established, members of which are granted a lifetime lease of 1 square foot (0.093 m2) of land on the island of Islay. The annual rent is a dram of Laphroaig which can be obtained upon visiting the distillery.