Whisky Regions

Islay Series #3: Laphroaig

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From Bruichladdich to the town Bowmore, this series outlining my recent trip to Islay will now detail our visit to the Laphroaig distillery – which, appropriately, was the second distillery we visited on our tour. The drive from Bowmore to Laphroaig took in the area of twenty minutes (which seems to be a common theme when driving around Islay) and brought us right through the peat bogs. Now, the peat bogs are quite interesting! This is where they break the peat that is used to get that peaty (would you believe it), smoky, Islay taste. What you might not have guessed is that the peat is actually broken/dug out/whatever you prefer to call it by hand; there is no machinery used, just good old man-power.

The peat bog area is rather massive, and the road going through it is – according to our driver – the longest straight road on Islay, and I don’t doubt the truth of that statement for a second. It’s quite long, and very straight indeed. It is also very bumpy, and this is due to the softness of the ground. While it started out perfectly smooth, the traffic going over it pushes the ground down beneath the asphalt – and the asphalt has little choice but to follow. The result is a roller coaster of a ride, but luckily the view is worth it and it only takes about ten or fifteen minutes to drive across.

Peat warehouse

The Tour

The tour itself is standard; it’s difficult to add a quirk to a whisky tour, as in essence all whiskies are made using the same basic technique. In other words, if you’re planning a similar whisky tour then I would recommend that you only book perhaps 2 full tours, and arrange for tastings at the other distilleries – this is what we did, and thank Christ for that. As much as I enjoy learning about the process, there’s only so many times you can be told what a still or tun is without going nuts. That said, the Laphroaig tour was very good indeed; the lady who led it appeared to be a local and really knew her stuff, and she was very friendly.

Laphroaig funny sign

Quite a few of our group were “Friends of Laphroaig” (you can sign up for free on their website) which meant that they go to go to a nearby field and plant a little flag representing the country they came from. While this may sound tacky, everyone thoroughly enjoyed it – I suspect the whisky tasting that had taken place earlier on had something to do with that, however!

As at Bruichladdich, the good folk at Laphroaig were more than happy to serve you a sample drink of any standard expression – I honestly do not understand how the population of Islay aren’t all alcoholics. It must also be said that the views offered at the distillery were absolutely magnificent – which one of my humble photos will hopefully get across – and that alone makes it well worth visiting. Grabbing a free sample and sitting down at the tables outside in the sun while enjoying the view was one of the highlights of the entire tour.

Laphroaig - the view

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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