Laphroaig – Water to Whisky Experience

A few images always come to mind when I think of Islay’s Laphroaig Whisky, one of them being the understated white label, another is the iconic white washed sea wall and another would be, of course, the peaty monster you experience on that first hit…la-sm1
On this trip to Islay my eyes were opened wide to Laphroaig full UK range and its traditional, bustling distillery. I have visited many Whisky Distilleries over the last 5 years but this one felt a little different, this one was noisy and busy, the workforce was many and strong,  I genuinely felt transported back in time to when distilleries where the heartbeat of a village, where every person was really required to make the spirit happen.

I must confess up until last week Laphroaig for me didn’t vary too much and I never ventured much further than the 10yo, occasionally a Quarter Cask and latterly Triple Wood.  That was all about to change for me.  Vicky (Visitor Centre Manager) was our Laphroaig expert and guide for our trip, she delighted us with a very in depth tour of the malting floors, kiln, mash tun, wash backs, still house and of course the warehouses and then surprised us with a truly outstanding 6 dram tasting: tasting notes are below: and this was all before lunch…

10 year old | 40% Vol
Nose:  Fireballs, aniseed, salty, icing sugar
Taste:  White pepper nip, vanilla pods, aniseed, liquorice, salty finish
Finish:  Mouth watering, lip smacking

18 year old | 48% Vol
Nose:  Heather, honey, pine needles, green, clove
Taste:  White pepper, cherry almonds, honey flapjacks, coconut, buttery
Finish: Long, lingering and salty

25 year old Cask Strength | 50.9%
Nose:  raspberries, pineapple, crystallized fruits, honeycomb, grapes, raisins, coconuts
Taste:  orange rind, bitter breakfast marmalade, crunchie bar, smoked, very juicy
Finish: Long and juicy

Quarter Cask | 48% Vol
Nose:  Vanilla pods, smores, toast, breakfast tea cake, burnt toast
Taste:  Pork, burnt toast, meaty, peachy sweet, bbq saucy, rocket + pepper
Finish: Medium and fruity

Triplewood | 48% Vol
Nose:  Demerara sugar, walnuts, dates, buttered warm toast
Tatse:  Burnt toast & jam, pepper, drying heather, floral petals, liquorice
Finish: Woody and dry

Cairdeas Ilich | 50.5% Vol
Nose:  Cloves, biscuits, spice, more cloves, strudel, citrus, salty, dark chocolate
Taste:  Raspberry sherbet, liquorice, oily, heavy apple strudel, salty
Finish: Robustly spicy and salty

On this day, when tasting against the 6 above the 18yo was my favourite, but possibly on another day with other whiskies I may not be so sure,  Laphroaig’s do taste a little different when enjoyed at the distillery…


With an Islay head and a rosy tint, we were now ready to be treated to our “Water to Whisky Experience“.   Suitable Scottish springtime clothing was required – wellies and a Laphroaig waterproof jacket… off to the watersource we trekked.  After dodging a few grumpy sheep and a couple of cute wee lambs we met with Laphroaig’s water source, far up on the hills behind the distillery, what a view over the grounds of the distillery and out to the Atlantic Ocean.  If you know anything about the history of Laphroaig’s water source you’ll know it’s extremely precious as it has been compromised in the past.Laphroaig

“In 1907 the neighbouring distillery to Laphroaig wanted to replicate the precious liquid they were making and so decided to block the water source and divert to their distillery.  This was a short lived set back as the courts intervened and the water source was restored to Laphroaig in 1908.  In the years after the land surrounding the water flow and the source was purchased by Laphroaig to safeguard its future.  The huge amount of land now owned by Laphroaig is the land the every Friend of Laphroaig owns a square foot of.”

At the source we enjoyed a delicious deli style lunch, with home made soup, lobster salad, tasty wraps and delicious home made shortbread, oh and to finish a healthy dram of 10yo Cask Strength.  The next stop was to the peat banks, a first for me, to cut the peat.  A little apprehensive I really shouldn’t have been, this was an honour to try and I know that a few sods of my hand cut peat will be used to make Laphroaig in the future.  The Water to Whisky tour was exceptional, the host, whisky and distillery atmosphere was second to none…

I have ignited my love for Laphroaig’s and will look past the 10yo and now venture to the 18yo – my new Islay, until I find the next one.

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2 Responses

  1. Pip says:

    Great report, Nicola.

    I’m heading ti Islay shortly to do the standard tours, and was having trouble deciding which one to splash out on.

    This has settled it for me.


  2. Nicola Young says:

    Hi Pip

    Glad you enjoyed my post on my Laphroaig – Water to Whisky Experience.

    Hope you have a great trip on Islay.


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