Founded by two brothers, Alex and Donald Johnston in 1815, Laphroaig (which is pronounced La-Froyg) has secured a place in the mind of any serious fan of single malt scotch whisky.
The brothers were originally farmers on the island of Islay, searching for a use of surplus barley when they decided to found their distillery. Benefited by an ample supply of especially pure water, word of their whisky soon spread through out Islay. In 1815 the brothers dedicated all of their efforts on whisky production.
Their product continued to grow due to its distinctive peaty and smoky flavor present in the scotch, and in 1836 Donald bought out his brothers share in the business to become the distillery's sole owner. Unfortunately Donald's tenure as the owner was short lived - losing his life by falling into a vat of whisky in 1847.
Despite this setback for the business, the success of the company continued - the reputation of the distillery spread to the mainland, with a prominent journalist at the time, Alfred Bernand commenting in 1887:
"The whisky made at Laphroaig is of exceptional character. The distillery is greatly aided by circumstances that cannot be accounted for... largely influenced by the accidents of locality, water and position.
The business began to face troubles with its neighbor, the also famous single malt distiller Lagavulin, which resulted in Laphroaig's water supply being cut off in 1907 and in Lagavulin attempting to copy the brands style. The constant strain against this fierce competition did damage the company's profits, and the tension would remain high well into the Twentieth Century.
The distillery moved into the ownership of Ian Hunter in 1921 and soon took steps to modernize operations of the business. In 1923 after a bidding war with their rivals Lagavulin, the company was able to secure the purchase of their land and the business's future seemed secure.
Production soon doubled, and new equipment (namely 2 stills, which was designed to replicate to the originals perfectly) were built to allow this growth to continue. The company also played a founding role in the establishment of using different oak casks to produce a perfectly flavored scotch. The business began using American bourbon casks during maturation, a tradition that continues to this day.
The brand's distribution continued to grow, initially to Scandinavia followed by Latin America, Europe, Canada and the United States. Despite prohibition still being practiced in the US Laphroaig became a legal import in 1929.
The business went through a series of ownership changes, with the distillery becoming owned by Bessie Williamson (Ian Hunter's financial advisor) in 1954 who then sold the company to become part of Long John International in 1961. Distribution of the product continued to grow world wide, the brand becoming well recognized for its consistent quality.
A further change in ownership took place in 1990 with the brand becoming part of Allied Domecq. The brand was honored by receiving a Royal Warrant by Prince Charles in 1994, who personally delivered his recommendation.
The brand continues to grow in its reputation, receiving the award of 'Best of Best' at the 2005 Champions of Whisky Competition, and Laphroaig (which is now owned by Jim Beam Spirits and Wine) remains as leading example of Islay single malt scotches.
- Quarter Cask
- Cask Strength
- 10 Year Old
- 15 Year Old
- 30 Year Old
- 40 Year Old