On the far edge of the Scotch whisky map, it's supposed that the art of distillation was first taken to Islay by Irish monks. Being remote, it’s an art that flourished in the hands of the islanders, whose illegal operations tested the resolve and means of the tax man. Eventually, the law relaxed and various whisky makers set up legitimate distilleries, among them a pair of farmers, Donald and Alexander Johnston, who in 1815 founded their distillery on the island’s south coast. Laphroaig is named after its location, ‘broad hollow by the bay.’
This expression offers an irresistible doubling of flavour due to the double maturation in two casks made of American oak. Still-maturing whisky from Laphroaig's standard ex-bourbon barrels is transferred to quarter casks and left to rest in their warehouse just a stone’s throw from the Atlantic shore. This process represents Laphroaig breathing new life into a once-defunct tradition: the use of the smaller cask size, which ensures increased contact with the oak, creating a soft and velvety edge to complement Laphroaig’s distinctive peatiness.
On the nose the sensation is toffee and caramel, caused by the vanillas and tannins of the American oak, plus a dryness from the wood oil. The finish is long and alternates between this sweetness and smoke.