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.
Brilliant gold in colour. The bouquet seems pretty sweet, even a little sweet. Notes of raisins and juicy apricots precede a hint of smoke, peat and have followed by hazelnut. A drop of water is used to enhance the smoky notes. Even after the past years in bourbon casks of first fill and quarter casks of sherry, it is clear that these smoky retain their full force. The palate is powerful and creamy. Peat is felt more strongly than on the nose, but keeps his balance with hints of vanilla and fruit with a touch of sherry. Few drops of water are used to highlight the citrus and spice. European oak casks have left a faint trace of bitterness that goes well with creamy notes of the American oak barrels.
Finish: Long and rich, but also very balanced.