Laphroaig Distillery, Islay, Scotland

Sometime in 2013 I have launched a personal exploration project descriptively called  “one bottle of single malt from each distillery in Scotland”. Until recently, I just bought the bottles and tested them one by one. In 2014 however, Ioana decided to help me crank up the pace and we took the summer holiday as a trip around Scotland, with it’s beautiful scenery, thousands of castles, millions of lakes and around one hundred whisky distilleries.

As usual I had the camera with me and as a result I am launching today the “Scotland 2014 trip” series in the “travel” category of posts here on There is a lot to tell on each subject that will be depicted, but this is a travel photography blog, so we’ll cut it as short as possible and let the photos talk instead.

As a very short intro, Scotland is incredibly beautiful, and is a great place to visit if you’re sick of ‘mass tourism‘.  The only things one has to have in mind is that it’s VERY expensive, the driving is on the wrong side of the road, and daylight almost never ceases during the summer (I didn’t realize this before we went…)

The trip around Scotland took place in a counter clockwise fashion, from Glasgow and started with the small town of Tarbert, which is the place where one sleeps when one wants to get the morning ferry to Islay, the place in the world where the best whisky is made. Pictures from Tarbert will be featured in a separate posts, but I just cannot start with anything else than the Laphroaig Distillery, the places that produces one of the very best whiskies in the world. It distinguishes itself from other ‘peat monster’ neighbors by the fact that it (Laphroaig) is the most ‘rugged’ and ‘manly’ of them. I will not talk about the whiskies, that information I share on different media 🙂

laphroaig - 003 - visitor center entrance
Laphroaig Visitor Center entrance

The experience however is absolutely charming. The Visitor Center has this concept where Friends of Laphroaig own the land where the distillery is located and where it sources the barley from, so Laphroaig pays it’s friends rent (one dram of whisky per year), and whenever visiting, Friends can go out and find their particular one square foot plot of land, and mark it with a national flag. This is an incredibly funny activity where people with GPS coordinates wander around a large barley field and stick tiny flags in the ground when they identify their plots:

FOL Certificates for claiming one's rent
FOL Certificates for claiming one’s rent
laphroaig - 004 - fol wellies
Friends of Laphroaig dedicated wellies fro visiting one’s plot
laphroaig - 008 - cristi finds his plot plants the flag
Finding your plot and marking it

The distillery tour is also very educative, talking visitors through every step of the whisky making process, including the floor maltings, each phase of the distillation (with tastes and smells).

Malting floor at Laphroaig distillery
Malting floor at Laphroaig distillery

On the malting floor there is the tool that eliminated “Monkey Shoulder” – the disease that was characteristic to workers in distilleries that had to continuously turn the barley by shovel so as to ensure proper aeration. The tool depicted below was invented so that the barley is turned without the need for someone to lift it on a shovel and throw it over the shoulder:

This tool eliminated "Monkey Shoulder"
This tool eliminated “Monkey Shoulder”
laphroaig - 013 - distillation stills
Copper Stills at Laphroaig Distillery

Like all distilleries in Scotland, Laphroaig is very proud of their history:

laphroaig - 010 - barrels history
A whisky history printed on barrels

I will end  this post with the promise that more posts from this trip will follow, so be sure to subscribe and have them automatically delivered when they are pressed ( by email or via RSS).

Until then, have a look around for more travel photos from around the world, and remember how the distillery looks in the morning:

Laphroaig Distillery in the morning sun
Laphroaig Distillery in the morning sun

4 thoughts on “Laphroaig Distillery, Islay, Scotland

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  2. Hahah magic smoke, I know exactly what you mean (my bknograucd is in software engineering). If you associate the peatiness with the smoke and then associate the peatiness to the utter horror of frying your chip (or anything else on the board) then I can imagine it being an unpleasant experience. Islays are all smoky and peaty in this way though Laphroaig and Lagavulin are probably the most famous of the Islays. It was probably a huge departure from your Balvenie right? That’s a Speyside so it’s got more of the floral and fruity flavors that would get dominated by the heavy peat-factor of Islays. I’m a huge fan of Balvenie, specifically the DoubleWood, because that sherry imparts a nice bonus; and Glenlivet, another Speyside.I’m a newbie too and while I try not to categorize based on region too much, in this case it’s unavoidable.

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