Laphroaig logo, Islay single malt Scotch whisky.

Laphroaig Distillery

  • Scotland
  • Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year,
Phone Number
  • +441496302418
  • Laphroaig, Isle of Islay PA42 7DU, United Kingdom

Laphroaig distillery on Scottish coast with swan in water.


History of Laphroaig Distillery

The Founding of Laphroaig (1815)

Laphroaig Distillery, established in 1815 by Donald and Alexander Johnston, is a testament to the Isle of Islay’s rich whisky-making heritage. Initially, the distillery served as a means to utilize the surplus barley from the Johnston brothers’ cattle farming operations.

Over time, Laphroaig’s unique whiskies, shaped by the island’s soft peaty water, gained widespread acclaim.

Early Popularity and Legal Battles (Late 19th Century)

In the late 19th century, Laphroaig’s whisky, celebrated for its quality, became highly sought after for blending. This demand led to notable legal disputes with neighboring distilleries like Lagavulin, reflecting the growing prominence of Laphroaig’s distinct whiskies in the Scotch market.

Ian Hunter’s Innovations (Early to Mid 20th Century)

Ian Hunter, the last of the Johnston family to own the distillery, significantly influenced Laphroaig’s legacy. His tenure saw substantial changes, including the pioneering use of American white oak casks for maturation.

This innovation became a defining feature of Laphroaig’s aging process, contributing to its distinct flavor profile.

Bessie Williamson’s Era (1954 Onwards)

After Hunter’s death in 1954, the distillery was inherited by Elisabeth ‘Bessie’ Williamson, who made history as the first female distillery owner. She continued Hunter’s vision, preserving the unique characteristics of Laphroaig whiskies.

Changes in Ownership and Expansion (1960s-2005)

The 1960s marked the beginning of Laphroaig’s gradual sale to Seager Evans & Co, leading to several expansions and changes in ownership. In 2005, the distillery came under the ownership of Fortune Brands (Jim Beam), indicating its growing international influence.

Joining Suntory Holdings (2014)

In 2014, Laphroaig became part of Suntory Holdings, a significant milestone reflecting its status in the global whisky market.

Laphroaig’s Signature Whisky Range

Laphroaig is celebrated for its peaty, smoky whiskies, a characteristic derived from local peat, hand-cut for the malting process. Notable expressions include the Laphroaig Quarter Cask (introduced in 2004) and the Laphroaig Cairdeas and Triple Wood (both introduced in 2008), each showcasing the distillery’s commitment to flavor and tradition.

Ongoing Legacy and Global Recognition

Today, Laphroaig continues to be revered by whisky enthusiasts worldwide, especially by those who favor its robust and distinctive flavor profile. The distillery remains a symbol of traditional Scottish whisky-making, combining centuries-old methods with innovative techniques to create its celebrated expressions.

Awards Won by Laphroaig Distillery and Liquors 

Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year: Laphroaig Distillery was honoured with the Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year award in Whisky Magazine’s global Icons of Whisky 2014 competition.

This award recognized the distillery’s exceptional visitor experience and the innovative Friends of Laphroaig loyalty program​​.

Royal Warrant: In 1994, Laphroaig was granted a Royal Warrant by HRH Prince Charles, known to be a whisky fan. The Royal Warrant is a significant accolade, denoting the Prince of Wales’s appreciation of Laphroaig’s quality.

Laphroaig 10 Year Old: Winner of a Gold Medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 2010.

Laphroaig PX Cask Travel Retail Exclusive: Received a Double Gold at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Laphroaig Distillery Tour Information and Experience

Visitor Centre

The visitor centre is open from March to October (9:45 – 17:00, 7 days a week) and from November to February (09:45 – 16:30, Monday to Friday). It’s advised to book in advance. The centre provides an opportunity to learn about the history of Laphroaig, browse the gift shop, and relax in the lounge bar​​​​​​​​.

The Warehouse 1 Experience

This tour allows you to explore the character and flavour of three casks in the iconic Warehouse 1 and take a bottle home. The duration is about 1 hour.

Lessons in Laphroaig

This is a whistle-stop tour of the distillery, covering the entire whisky-making process, and concludes with a whisky sampling. It lasts for approximately 4.5 hours.

A Walking Tour of Laphroaig

This comprehensive day trip takes visitors through every step of the whisky-making process, from the Kilbride stream to bottling. The tour is also around 4.5 hours long​​​​​​.

Lounge Bar

The Lounge Bar is a place to relax and enjoy Laphroaig whiskies. It operates similar hours to the visitor centre and offers last orders half an hour before closing.

Flask & Barrel Review of Laphroaig Distillery

As a whisky collector who’s toured many distilleries, I found my visit to Laphroaig Distillery an almost perfect experience, deserving a solid 4.7 out of 5 rating. Here’s my take on it:

Laphroaig’s location on the Isle of Islay is breathtaking from the get-go. Nestled by the sea, it’s got this rugged, almost wild charm typical of Islay.

Stepping into the distillery is like walking into whisky history – you can practically feel the stories seeping out of the walls.

The tour itself was top-notch. They took us through the entire whisky-making process, from the malting floors to the peat cutting. Seeing their traditional methods up close was genuinely captivating as someone who appreciates the finer details.

The malting floors, especially, are a rare sight in modern whisky-making. It’s impressive how they still stick to these time-honoured techniques. What sets Laphroaig apart for me is their peat. It’s hand-cut and adds that unmistakable, intense smokiness to their whisky.

Tasting the spirit at different stages of production was a highlight – it’s like watching a rough diamond being polished into brilliance.

Now, the Warehouse 1 experience – that was something else! Tasting straight from the cask is always a treat, but doing it in the atmospheric setting of their warehouse was unforgettable. The depth and variety of flavours in those casks were mind-blowing.

In conclusion, Laphroaig Distillery is a must-visit for any serious whisky fan. The stunning location, rich history, and immersive, hands-on experience they offer is hard to beat. It’s a whisky journey that stays with you long after the last drop has been savoured.

What To Do Nearby Laphroaig Distillery

Three Distilleries Pathway: This beautiful route links Laphroaig with two other renowned distilleries, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. It’s a great way to experience more of Islay’s whisky heritage while enjoying the scenic countryside and coastline​​.

Singing Sands: Located about 1.6 miles from Laphroaig, this area offers picturesque points of interest and scenic walking areas, perfect for nature lovers​​.

Dunyvaig Castle: Just 2.3 miles away, you can explore the ruins of this historic castle, offering a glimpse into Scotland’s rich history​​.

Islay Sea Adventures: For a change of pace, consider booking a wildlife watching boat trip. This is an excellent way to experience the marine life and rugged beauty of the area​​.

Other Distilleries on Islay: Islay is home to nine whisky distilleries, each offering its own unique tours and traditions. Besides Laphroaig, consider visiting distilleries like Bowmore, Bruichladdich, and Bunnahabhain for different whisky experiences​​.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Laphroaig Distillery?

SeaSalt Bistro & Takeaway: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. The address is 57 Frederick Cres. The contact number is +441496300300.

Ellen’s Wok: This Chinese restaurant is rated 4.7 stars on Google Maps. The address is 56 Frederick Cres. The contact number is +441496302292.

The Balaclava Byre: This restaurant has a rating of 4.7 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can contact them on their phone at +447778279124. Their address is Port Ellen, Isle of Islay PA42 7DB, United Kingdom.

What hotels are near Laphroaig Distillery?

No. 1 Charlotte Street: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can contact them on their phone at +441496300120. Their address is 1 Charlotte St, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay PA42 7DF, United Kingdom.

Cala Sith Guesthouse: This 4-star hotel is rated 4.7 stars on Google Maps. The contact number is +441496302021, and the address is 39 Frederick Cres, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay PA42 7DJ, United Kingdom.

Laphroaig View Guest House b&B: It has a rating of 4.8 stars on Google Maps. The contact number is +441496302514 and the address is Port Ellen, Isle of Islay PA42 7DS, United Kingdom.