I Lagavulin I Bruichladdich I Caol Ila I Port Ellen I Laphroaig I Bowmore I Jura I Kilchoman I Ardbeg I
Although I had received the answer to me that there was no need to book ahead for a tour, I decided to go to Laphroaig distillery quite early. To be sure to have the early tour and to have the opportunity to buy the special bottling for the Feis Ile, a Laphroaig 13 YO cask strength, specially selected for the festival. After queuing more than 15 min., I managed to get my tickets but also learnt that they had sold their special bottling the previous Monday and sold all of them in less than 3 hours, so there was not one single bottle left for their open day! Quite a disappointment! The special bottling of last year, a 17 years old (YO) was a fantastic dram, much more complex than the regular 15 YO and also with more punch. Just hope that this 13 YO was not that good.
As you probably know, Laphroaig is one of the few distillery malting some of its production (about 20%) on their own malting floors.
The smoky flavour of Laphroaig comes from the peat smoke used to dry the barley. The peat used in Laphroaig is manually cut and used to generate the smoke used to kiln the barley. When we see smoke, we take the assumption that smoke is always warm, but this is not the case when you open the door of the kilning floor. It is more like a cool wind with peaty flavours.
After the tour, I enjoyed having lunch on the sunny terrace of the Kiln house in Ardbeg, before going back to Laphroaig for the walk to the Source.
The walk was short but pleasant and enjoyed chatting with the different workers accompanying us. Since they are the men producing the whisky, better to talk to them than to their marketing division!
Tasting the water coming from the Laphroaig source was interesting and if you have the opportunity to try it, you will better understand why that the whisky should be drunk with its source water. The water of the Kilbride source is soft and round, but has also a strong peaty taste.
And to complete my open day in Laphroaig, I had the opportunity to have a look at their quarter casks. In comparison to the regular casks, they look like dwarfed and cigar-like shape. Although they are as deep as regular casks, their diameter is much smaller and they contain only a quarter of cask of whisky, thus allowing the whisky to mature much faster. How much? This is a secret, but I would guess about 2-3x faster.
I am quite used to the sea weedy, peaty and vigorous taste of Laphroaig and the quarter cask is quite surprising: much of the Laphroaig's clamour is lost, but compensated by a more rounded and sweet (somewhat complex) taste. If you find the regular Laphroaig to aggressive, try this one!