The Laphroaig distillery (the name means “the beautiful hollow by the broad bay”) was established in 1815, by Alex and Donald Johnston. The ‘Johnston’ brothers were actually McCabes, of the Clan Donald, who changed their names following the failed Jacobite uprising, and settled on the Isle of Islay. Their descendants ran the distillery until 1887, when it passed to the Hunter family. They in turn ran the distillery until 1954, when Ian Hunter (who had no children) died and left the distilley to one of his managers, Bessie Williamson, who earlier came to Islay to stay for three months but remained on Islay for more than fourty years. The distillery was sold to Long John International in the 1960’s, and subsequently became part of Allied Domecq. Since 1994 Laphroaig has been the only whisky to carry the Royal Warrant of HRH, Prince Charles of Wales (the 15-year-old is reportedly his favourite scotch whisky), which was awarded in person during a visit to the distillery.
The nose shows aromas that seem quite closed giving only a rich, sweet scent but a touch of water releases all the multitude of different flavours. The initial sweet, sherry sweetness is quickly followed but the time-honoured Islay peat tang. After this opening burst of flavour there is a smooth fruit ripeness that complements the tang of salt in the background. The body is rich round and full. The palate shows a burst of peat that fills the mouth is quickly restrained by a sherry sweetness that slowly develops into spicy apple fruitiness. The finish is very long and warming leaving a distinct tang of Islay.