Laphroaig's Visitor Centre features a museum, bar, shop and lounge. Besides the basic tour which costs £6.00, which includes a dram and a glass. If you're a Friend of Laphroaig, and why wouldn't you be, you will also be able to visit your very own plot of land near the distillery, plant your flag in it, and you will receive a miniature as rent, and a certificate.
The lounge has books with the names of all the Friends of Laphroaig, over 500,000 of them - find your name and sign the book.
As well as the basic tour, there are other variations to suit people with more or less time available, including an £85 tour taking in a visit to the water source, the peat banks and culminating in bottling your own 25cl straight from the cask.
Laphroaig is one of the few distilleries still to have its own malting floor (others are Bowmore, Kilchoman, Balvenie, Springbank, Highland Park), though most of the malt now comes from Port Ellen Maltings.
Laphroaig (pronounced La-froyg) is the first of the three distilleries in quick succession on the road out of Port Ellen.
Founded by brothers Alexander and Donald Johnston, whose father went on to establish Lagavulin just down the road in 1816. Alexander had already died by the time Donald fell into a vat of boiling burnt ale, his son Dugald was only 11, so Laphroaig was managed by Walter Graham from Lagavulin until Dugald was old enough to take over. Relations between the two neighbouring distilleries were to become much more strained later (see Lagavulin page and Malt Madness).
Ardenistle Distillery was set up next to Laphroaig in 1837, but it closed in 1866 and is now part of the Laphroaig site.
The distillery remained in the hands of the Johnston family until 1954 when there were none left! The distillery's management passed to Bessie Williamson - the first woman to mange an Islay distillery. She retired in 1972, by which time Seager Evans (Long John International) owned the distillery. Further takeovers and sales lead to Allied and now Fortune Brands owning Laphroaig.
Laphroaig is known as the Marmite of whisky - love it or hate it - the most stridently peaty of whiskies. Laphroaig famously beat American prohibition by being sold as a medicine!
Malt Madness, Undiscovered Scotland, Wikipedia, WhiskyMerchants.co.uk SMWS (29)
Click the map's Google logo to go to Google Maps - for Directions, Street View etc.
Open Cycle Map Bing Map Nearby: Port Ellen Lagavulin Ardbeg
Laphroaig Distillery is about one mile east of Port Ellen on the A846.
Port Ellen is one of the two ports on Islay served by CalMac from Kennacraig Winter Summer). Getting to Kennacraig? - see main Islay page.
Laphroaig's core range starts with the 40% 10 year old - long seen as the classic expression of Laphroaig, though Quarter Cask (48%) has rapidly gained in popularity since its introduction in 2004 - no age statement but probably around 7yo, the spirit starts off in traditional ex-bourbon barrels and is then transferred to smaller casks, which accelerates the maturation. The 18yo (also 48%) isn't as stridently peaty as the younger expressions, but is more obviously a Laphroaig than the 15yo it replaced. Cask Strength 10yo is now released in batches (7 so far). All these whiskies are bourbon matured. The 25yo has been bottled at 40% and 50.9% and is a pricey marriage of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. Recently the Triple Wood has been added to the range - essentially the Quarter Cask further aged in ex-Sherry wood, also bottled at 48%.
As with many other distilleries, Laphroaig has now introduced a basic NAS product - Select (40%).
Special releases are made from time to time, including the annual Fèis Ìle Càirdeas bottling.
Plenty of independent bottlings around as well.
LFW, RMW, TWE
Islay Cycles 07760 196592
Run from the Port Ellen Boatyard in the Business Park (behind the White Hart Hotel). Not a shop as such, but hire, sales, accessories and repairs available - see website/ring for further details.
Brian Palmer describes himself as "the only cycle repairer and spare parts person in Bowmore", and can be contacted via Catherine MacTaggart who hires bikes from Bowmore Post Office (01496 810366). Bike Hire in Port Ellen 01496 302349.Velo Club d'Ardbeg - buy the cycle jersey to join!
Washing Machine Post - Brian Palmer's Islay centric cycling site
Nearest Cycle Shops Lochgilphead (18 miles from Kennacraig), Oban
Nevis Cycles 87 George Street, Oban 01631 566033
David Graham 13-15 Combie Street, Oban 01631 562069
Crinan Cycles 34 Argyll Street, Lochgilphead 01546 603511
Photos on this page were taken by me. Click on photo to enlarge. Full size versions of all my photos of Laphroaig Distillery are available on Flickr.