Laphroaig

LeFrayg, LapRoig, Leap Frog, Lapfrog and Lafrock.

How is it that a distillery with one of the most mis-pronounced names in whisky history can and is one of the most popular smoky malts on earth?  Even in Australia, it regularly makes it into the top 10 single malts sold in the country.

And get this: this malt is no shrinking violet.  It’s not smooth and silky nor is it sweet and fruity.  It is one boisterous, savage, thick and pungently flavoured dram that just reeks to high heaven of coal smoke, tar, seaweed, fish oil, salt and iodine.

And yet, author Andrew Jefford still describes the spirit as pretty.

And we just love it!

Tin Shed Distilling - Iniquity

True story.  During prohibition American customs and excise officers allowed Laphroaig to be imported and sold during those dark non-alcoholic times.  But it was only allowed to be sold in chemists.  As these officers could not comprehend why anybody would want to drink it.

So, it was sold for purely medicinal purposes only.  So, there were lots of poorly New Yorkers who used that chemist for a decent curative

Officially founded in 1815, the year of the Battle of Waterloo, by the Johnston family and quickly made a fine reputation for “rich and pungent” (Barnard 1887) whiskies ideal for the blending trade.  And whiskies that were very different from its close neighbours: Lagavulin and Ardbeg.

Under the careful stewardship of Isabella Johnston, Ian Hunter, Mrs Bessie Williamson and Ian Henderson, this famed style remained unchanged even as its popularity grew.  Then in the 1970’s the distillery expanded to seven stills.

Ardbeg 25 yo

Did the style change? Not at all.  Many, many older collectors and imbibers still dream of owning a Laphroaig from the 1970’s and 80’s.  These were the years that they first tasted Laphroaig.

So that raises the question?  How does this distillery achieve this unique flavour?

Three production features stand out in my mind.  First and foremost, 15% of their barley is malted at the distillery.  And to a higher phenol specification that the 85% that comes from Port Ellen maltings.

Then we need to take a look at the stills, as a majority of them are small and squat.  This means a heavy, pungent and oily spirit.

Now, combine this with long feints and foreshots runs with a short spirit run, means that those pungent phenols from the peat, also stays in the spirit and in a big way.  And yet, this process also gets rid of those sweet and estery flavours Laphroaig is trying to avoid.

So, how should we pronounce it? Let’s just stick with La Froig

And as the old tag line used to go, “You’ll always remember your first Laphroaig.

Enough of the chat, let’s go tasting…

Ardbeg 25 yo

Entry Level:

Laphroaig Select

700ml 40%

Easy of the budget but little shy on that famous pungent style, but an excellent introduction for those that just don’t get smoke.  And somewhat surprisingly, this malt has been partially matured in new oak.  So, expect a tad more butter and vanilla in your gently peated dram.

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Ardbeg 25 yo

A True Classic:

Laphroaig 10yo

700ml 40%

This is one that made this distillery’s name in Australia and around the globe. You know the flavours: Iodine, seaweed, TCP, ban-aids, BBQ, asphalt, earthiness, sweet maltiness, buttery oak.

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Ardbeg 25 yo

Something Special:

Laphroaig Lore Richest of The Rich

700ml 48%

A special vatting of young and older Laphroaig, aged in in a combo of American and sherry oak casks, including small quarter casks.  Deep, flavoursome and mightily tasty. As one pundit put it, “It’s a spicy chili bomb, with that typical smoke, iodine and ash profile inherent to Laphroaig.

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Ardbeg 25 yo

Quite Unusual

Morrison Carn Mor  Williamson Laphroaig 2013 8yo  Bottled Oct 2021

700ml 47.5%

Normally, we rarely see independent bottlings of this famed distillery.  And when occasionally you find one, they are not allowed to use the name Laphroaig.  So, the good folk at Morrisons, and yes, the ones related to Bowmore, managed to get away with it.

Sweet malt, autumnal fruitiness, loads of dry ash, that just lingers and lingers. Great balance with buttery oak.  Fab length, with a dry ashy finish.

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For our full range of Laphroaig and spirits, take a look at our website here.

Cheers and keep tasting!