Laphroaig Distillery


History The Laphroaig distillery was established in 1815 by Donald and Alexander Johnston. The Johnstons who founded Laphroaig were from the Clan Donald and are likely to be from the MacIain of Ardnamurchan branch of the clan. The family anglicized their name to Johnston. The last member of the Johnston family to run the distillery was Ian Hunter, a nephew of Sandy Johnston, who died childless in 1954 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. Fortune Brands then split up its business product lines in 2011, forming its spirits business into Beam Inc. Beam was then purchased by Suntory Holdings in April 2014. Laphroaig has been the only whisky to carry the Royal Warrant of the Prince of Wales, which was awarded in person during a visit to the distillery in 1994. The 15-year-old was reportedly the prince’s favourite Scotch whisky.

The Whiskyphiles tasting notes

Official Bottling
  • laphroaig-10-year-old-whisky Laphroaig 10 Years Old (2018) - Laphroaig 10 Years Old whisky review: A simply classic expression from Laphroaig, sweeter and milkier than my memory serves. I always remember the smoke and creosote from this dram although I'll not be tasting that until tomorrow! I can't believe it has taken me this long to sit down and collect notes from this. After quite a break from drinking this regularly it has been a pleasure to return and remind myself what great quality Laphroaig has even in their most basic expression. 84/100
  • laphroaig-10-year-old-cask-strength-batch-012-whisky Laphroaig 10 Years Old Cask Strength Batch 12 (2020) - Nom nom nom. Another fantastic Laphroaig cask strength expression with all sorts of weird fruitiness showing up in the depths of this alcohol. Perhaps if watered down this would reveal even more but frankly it really didn't need it! 87/100
  • laphroaig-10-year-old-cask-strength-batch-008-whisky Laphroaig 10 Years Old Cask Strength Batch 8 (2017) - A great combination of fierce spirit and equally sturdy oak wood cask influences - borders on bourbon in places makes for a superb balance and brings out some oddly fruity suggestions on the palate - I love this stuff and it's preceeding reputation is very well deserved. 89/100
  • laphroaig-15-year-old-200th-anniversary-edition-whisky Laphroaig 15 Years Old 200th Anniversary Edition (2016) - Beautiful expression, lots going on in here alongwith the salt and peat influences, such power in this really brought to mind a dark cherry liqueur. 88/100
  • laphroaig-18-year-old-whisky Laphroaig 18 Years Old (2014) - A beautiful whisky from Laphroaig that really tames that fiery powerful peaty character into something sublime. A really delicious dram that reveals sweet woody bourbon character married perfectly with gentle peat and clean iodine. I could drink this all day. 88/100
  • laphroaig-21-year-old Laphroaig 21 Years Old 200 Years foL Edition (2016) - Rather un-Laphroaig like, this is old and reserved, very sweet with plenty of vanilla, more so than the presence of any wood or peat influence here. I have question-marked this as a classic the biggest influence is its first-fill bourbon maturation and the age has really mellowed the peat influence out. This was also slightly acrid in places. 88/100
  • Laphroaig 30 Years Old Cairdeas (2014) - Wow, what a dram! Usually in older whisky I find the peat influence mellowed and a lot of wood influence, this one appears to have been slightly rejuvenated by the second maturation allowing the peat to burst out in an array of flavours. The nuttiness is also there but in a variety of guises and the herbal woody notes just seem to really work with everything else going on. I just wish I had so much more of this one... 92/100
  • Laphroaig An Cuan Mor (2013) - The subtlety and smoothness of the finish, the complexity of this in the mouth and the fire with which it starts combine to make this a pretty spectacular dram. I haven't tasted a Laphroaig that packs in so much, yet finishes so smoothly. 90/100
  • laphroaig-cairdeas-2015-200th-anniversary-edition-whisky Laphroaig Cairdeas 200th Anniversary (2016) - A very nice creamy and easy drinking Laphroaig with plenty of peaty character. I guess this is a success as it sets out to achieve exactly what they wanted from it. Made for drinking I'd say! 88/100
  • laphroaig-cairdeas-madeira-cask-2016-edition-whisky Laphroaig Cairdeas Madeira Cask (2018) - Laphroaig Cairdeas Madeira Cask whisky review: A long sweet twist on your standard Laphroaig, the Madeira cask finish certainly isn't dominant but the sweetness pervades both the smoke and spice. Undulates across the palate as flavours fight for dominance but overall quite harmonious and very enjoyable. 87/100
  • laphroaig-cairdeas-origin-2012-edition-whisky Laphroaig Cairdeas Origin (2014) - This 2012 Cairdeas is now only available at auction and I imagine the price per bottle may have doubled at least, I have heard that this essentially is a souped-up version of the standard Quarter Cask expression from Laphroaig so I expect I will seek this expression out before too long. I will continue to purchase the future Cairdeas bottlings as they represent both great quality and value as well as a little more unusual expressions from one of my favourite distilleries. 88/100
  • laphroaig-cairdeas-port-wood-edition-2013-whisky Laphroaig Cairdeas Port Wood Edition (2013) - On the face of this one I would strongly recommend a port finish Laphroaig could easily make its way into their standard range even at a tamer non cask strength, however I wouldn't want to take anything away from the shine of this bottle. This is my current go to bottle when I either want a kick in the tastebuds or have several hours to sit and mull purely over a single dram. 90/100
  • laphroaig-quarter-cask-whisky Laphroaig Quarter Cask (2015) - Presenting that Laphroaig signature peaty peanut flavour, though a little less sweet and a lot less harsh than the 10 Year Old. This toning down in palate made it much more drinkable / easy drinking, but then I don’t drink Laphroaig to feel ‘safe’… 82/100
  • laphroaig-triple-wood Laphroaig Triple Wood (2015) - The Laphroaig triple wood was OK, it is slightly salty and reasonably peaty but the sherry finish feels a little like an afterthought and was not well-controlled or integrated into the whisky. 82/100
Independent Bottling
A. D. Rattray
  • williamson-6-year-old-2011-cask-130-cask-collection-ad-rattray-whisky Williamson 6 Years Old 2011 Single Cask (2018) - Williamson 6 Years Old 2011 Cask #130 whisky review: Probably would have been my dram of the night if the Cask Islay (Caol Ila?) hadn't been so darned good! A lot earthier in its peat this one and some substantial cask influence despite the use of a bigger vessel (butt) over a relatively short period. Perhaps if left a few more years this one could have been truly amazing? 87/100
  • Laphroaig 22 Years Old 1991 Authentic collection (2014) - Drool, welcome to whisky heaven, definitely one for those who love peat but there was no harshness of TCP/germolene or smoke for that matter. This was really just an earthy peatiness covered in thick layers of vanilla custard, and everyone loves custard – right? 89/100
Carn Mor
Chapter 7
Douglas Laing
  • Laphroaig 15 Years Old 1998 Single Cask (2015) - A classic ex-bourbon/American oak matured Laphroaig, old enough to have imbued a healthy dose of vanillins which complement that sweet peaty smoke that so reminds me of peanut and satay sauce on meat - what I just love about Laphroaig. Again another sample I would hope is bottled soon! 89/100
Hunter Laing
  • Laphroaig 14yo OMC Laphroaig 14 Years Old 2000 Old Malt Cask (2014) - A lot of strong flavours in this sherry-influenced Laphroaig. This one stays on the sweet side of becoming bitter with plenty of savoury elements redolent of bbq and char-cooking. A great winter / fire-side or even Christmas Dram! One to keep you warm on a cold night. 86/100
Lockett Bros
  • Laphroaig 12 Year Old Cask Strength The Bass Lockett Bros Laphroaig 12 Year Old 1996 Bass (Lockett Bros) (2013) - Laphroaig's no-nonsense intense peaty style actually lends itself rather well to cask strength whisky. I don't know if the quoted 40ppm phenolics just subtly blend into what I think of as the stereotypical Laphroaig taste or if their distillation process and maturation removes the halogenated [chloro-phenol] most medicinal/TCP-esque nasal offenders? Either way this one seriously warms the cockles! 89/100
Scotch Malt Whisky Society
  • SMWS 29.150 Hand rolled Cuban cigars (2015) - no tasting notes. 89/100
  • festival-bottlings-29.244-350x370 SMWS 29.244 Weaving wondrous dreams (2018) - SMWS 29.244 Weaving wondrous dreams whisky review: A deliciously smooth and malty dram from Laphroaig with their characteristic medicinal peaty nose and malty body. 87/100
  • 29.249-web SMWS 29.249 Sweet black tea in the surgery (2018) - SMWS 29.249 Sweet black tea in the surgery whisky review: OK so it is a finished whisky and my conscience still tells me that doesn't sit right with the old 'Product of a single cask' statement the bottles used to carry. Finishing is not only here to stay within SMWS, but has apparently been around since 1991 according to John. So here's to there being a little more explicit information or openness around finished casks. It only occurred to me after the tasting, but I wonder if finished casks have previously failed the tasting panel so badly they get sent for finishing? Whatever the history of this cask, it is undeniably tasty and drinkable now - in case a 21 year old PX sherry finished Islay malt hadn't piqued your curiosity... 89/100
  • Laphroaig 15 Years Old 1998 Unchillfiltered Laphroaig 15 Years Old 1998 The Un-Chillfiltered Collection (2015) - An interesting mix of real creamy and gently fruity ice cream flavours with a dash of salt and plenty of thick peat smoke. Somehow this combination really works for me and is verging on a heavily peated session dram though I suspect either sickly sweetness or more likely peat reek would take over before too long. Enjoyed it while it lasted. 85/100
That Boutique-Y Whisky Company
  • islay-3-that-boutiquey-whisky-company-whisky Islay #3 13 Years Old Batch 4 (2020) - Islay #3 13 Years Old Batch 4 whisky review: A fantastic Islay expression with plenty of milk chocolate / peanut butter and salt that combine perfectly into Reeses peanut butter cups and lots of herbal thyme thrown in for good measure, awesome! 89/100