2nd day on Islay and the most eagerly tour is ensuing – Laphroaig Distillery. If you’re following me and/or my blog, you’re probably aware of my affection to Laphroaig, so this tour was booked with very high expectations.
(Just a quick note before we actually starts – this post has more pictures then the usual so you’ve been warned!)
We woke up to an sunny and bright Islay day, ate quick breakfast and drove early to the distillery to soak some Laphroaig atmosphere at the FoL (Friends of Laphroaig) lounge before going on the high-end Distillers Wares tour. We even saw John Campbell the distillery manager but he was too busy so didn’t managed to get a picture this time.
So 10am arrived and we went on the tour which was fully booked despite the fact it’s expensive and long. Not really surprising as there are many Laphroaig fans (and they all wanted some whisky from the cask!).
Guess what was our first significant stop? Right! malting floors! As you can see in the picture below, they weren’t having a large batch going.
Then we move to the Kiln where we got to see it in action and got demonstration of how the workers harvest peat from the fields using the peat spade:
The dried malt is then converted to grist and then into the Mash Tun (Lauter Tun in Laphroaig):
As usual, the output is transferred to the wash backs. In Laphroaig they use steel wash backs instead of the traditional Oregon pine wash backs. They said their investigation didn’t lead to any advantage of the old wash backs so they stick to the steel ones for easier maintenance and cleaning.
Guess what’s next? Yup, Stills room, where we also saw the new spirit safe installed a few months prior to our visit (as the old one was leaking)
Then we went to the warehouse. as you can see – many casks, some of them quite old – what a lovely view.
then came the fun part of the tour – sampling 3 casks, then choosing and bottling a 250ml bottle from your preferred cask.
And it was, oh so much fun! Going through all the 3 casks, tasting, enjoying, debating, exchanging impressions & advising one each other. I can tell you that most of us went for one of the first 2 casks (1999 or 2002). I myself went for the 2nd cask from 2002. So time for filling the bottle:
We then packed the bottle along with min Glencairn glass inside a very nice gift pack to take home and savor.
But just before we went back to the visitors center to register our FoL plot and buy some necessary merchandises, we took the customary picture. notice the smile – we were quite euphoric 🙂
What can I say? All in all – it was the emotional highlight the trip. we savored every moment of it and wished the tour to continue forever. we stopped back at the visitors center to register our FoL plot, have a dram on the house (picked Quarter Cask – my first Laphroaig!), got another glass and a Polo shirt as present from Rotem (Thanks buddy!). There’s no doubt – we will be back!
Distillery In a nutshell
Name: Laphroaig Distillery
Owners: Beam (updated: Suntory)
Location: Port Ellen, Islay
Water source: Kilbride Dam
Stills: 3 Wash stills, 4 Spirit stills
Capacity (yearly): 2,700,000 litres
Tour in a nutshell
Tours availability: Check here: http://www.laphroaig.com/distillery/visiting.aspx
Cost of tour: £6 for standard tour up to £52 for Distillers Wares tour
Length of tour: 1 hour / 2.5 hours
Distillery Exclusive bottles: BYO in Distillers Wares tour