Laphroaig          the cave by the bay


Donald and Alexander Johnston founded the distillery in 1815. Donald became the only owner in 1836 and sold out his brother. Donald was unfortunate as he fell into a vat of hot spent lees (burnt ale) in 1847 and died thereafter. Today the Laphroaig label still holds the name D. Johnston but this refers not to Donald but to Dugald, the son of Donald who claimed to be the founder of the distillery.

In 1908 Ian Hunter took over from the Johnstons. He had some arguments with his Lagavulin neighbour Peter Mackie who build a new distillery called Malt Mill on the grounds of Lagavulin to produce a Laphraoig style of spirit. Ian Hunter is reputed to have convinced the U.S. authorities during prohibition that Laphroaig Single Malt was a medicincal product. The officials were easily convinced of the strange abundent flavours of this Islay drink.

A character dram! What a personality of smoke! A beautiful visitor centre welcomes you. Excellent tours not to be missed as Laphroaig is one of the very few Scottish distilleries with its own malting floors (around 40 ppm). The Porteus four roller mill is from an English brewery and one of the oldest Porteus mills in the Scottish whisky industry. There, you will also find the shortest railway track in the world to transport Glenmachrie peat to the peat furnace. 15% own floor malt is produced, the rest of malt required is from Port Ellen Maltings and from maltsters of the Scottish mainland.

The distillery produces also a non peated new make which is called Ardenstiel (or Ardenistle, Ardenistile or Ardenistiel).

About 70% of the annual production of 3,4 million litres goes into malt bottlings and 30% into blends (2014). Laphroaig is also popular with independent bottlers. However,  the distillery stopped selling single casks. Mainly first fill bourbon casks from Maker‘s Mark, Kentucky, are filled. 60.000 casks are stored in traditional dunnage warehouses and racked warehouses on Islay.  Every ,Friend of Laphroaig‘ owns a square foot of Islay land next to the distillery. There is a special reception room for the „Friends“. Very friendly staff and excellent guides.

In 2014 the family owned drinks firm Suntory Holdings K.K. bought Beam Inc for $16bn (£9.7bn) in all, Suntory paid $13.6bn in cash and took on Beam's debt. The annual production is about 3,3 million litres of pure alcohol.

Character: fresh, sweet, peppery, peat smoke, some feints, medicinical

Distillery Manager: John Campbell (2010)

Excellent resource website, please see

Please double-click and thumbnail the photo to open the tour.

Thank you.

Owner: Suntory Holdings K.K.