INFO CLASSIC MALTS Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Islay
geen leeftijd vermelding
40 % VINTAGE SINGLE ISLAY MALT SCOTCH WHISKY The Vintage Malt Whisky Co, Ltd Glasgow
geen leeftijd vermelding
57,2 % VINTAGE PURE SINGLE ISLAY MALT SCOTCH WHISKY Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh
15 years old
64,4 % CADENHEAD'S AUTHENTIC COLLECTION Cask Strenght Distilled December 1978 Bottled December 1993 Not Chill Filtered No additives No Colouring Wm. Cadenhead, 32 Unionstreet, Campbeltown
geen leeftijd vermelding
LAST BOTTLE AND EMPTY
43% 1980 THE DISTILLERS EDITION lgv. 4/464 Single Islay Malt Whisky Special Release Limited Edition Special Release Edition Double Matured 43 % Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay
geen leeftijd vermelding
LAST BOTTLE AAND EMPTY
43% 1986 THE DISTILLERS EDITION lgv. 4/490 Single Islay Malt Whisky Special Release Limited Edition Special Release Edition Double Matured 43 % Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay
15 years old
INFO LAST BOTTLE AND EMPTY Date distilled Mar 80 Date Bottled Sept 95 Society Cask No. code 111.1 The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
15 years old
LAST BOTTLE AND EMPTY Date distilled Mar 80 Date bottled Sept 95 Society Cask No. code 111.2 The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
INFO SINGLE CASK SCOTCH MALT WHISKY Date distilled Jan 87 Date bottled Sep 01 Society"Cask No. code 111.17 314 bottles The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh 'Scentless hand-soap and scented smoke'.
25 years old
57,2 % SPECIAL CLASSIC MALTS Cask Strenght Natural Cask Strenght Distilled 1977 Bottled 2002 9000 bottles Genummerde flessen Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay
12 years old
INFO SPECIAL CLASSIC MALTS CASK STRENGHT SPECIAL RELEASE SINGLE ISLAY MALT WHISKY Distilled 1990 Bottled in 2002 Natural Cask Strenght Lagavulin Distillery
12 years old
57,8% SPECIAL CLASSIC MALTS CASK STRENGHT Special Release Single Islay Malt Whisky Second very limited release Distilled 1991 Bottled 2003 Natural Cask Strenght Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay
12 years old
58,2 % SPECIAL CLASSIC MALTS CASK STRENGHT Special Release Single Islay Malt Whisky Third very limited realease Distilled 1992 Bottled 2004 Natural Cask Strenght Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay
geen leeftijd vermelding
55 % THE SEAWEED EXPERIENCE Single Malt Seaweed Whisky The Ultimate Whisky Company N.L.
12 years old
57,7 % SPECIAL RELEASES 2005 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Natural Cask Strenght Distilled: 1993 Bottled 2005 Limited Edition Fourth Edition From Refill American Oak Casks Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay
12 years old
INFO CLASSIC MALTS SELECTION SPECIAL RELEASES 2006 Fine Cask Strenght Single Malt Whiskies FIFTH OF A SERIES OF SPECIAL 12 YEAR OLD RELEASES FROM THE ORIGINAL DISTILLER'S STOCKS Distilled 1994 Vatted from refill American Oak casks Bottled in 2006 Limited Edition 480 bottles available for the Netherlands Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay
Aged 12 years
INFO Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky THE CLASSIC MALTS SELECTION EXCLUSIVELY BOTTLED FOR FRIENDS OF THE CLASSSIC MALTS Distilled in 1995 MATURED EXCLUSIVELY IN EUROPEAN OAK Bottled in 2008 Numbered Bottles Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay
6 years old
46 % Islay Single Malt THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY SELECTION Distilled: 01/08/02 Matured in a hogshead Cask no: 08/130/12 Bottled: 28/01/09 Numbered Bottles Natural Colour Non Chillfiltered Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Company,
21 years old
56,5 % Single Islay Malt Whisky THE CLASSIC MALTS SELECTION Distilled in 1985 Natural Cask Strenght Bottled in 2007 Limited Edition Numbered Bottles 6642 Bottles Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay LAGAVULIN
1 9 9 5
THE DISTILLERS EDITION DOUBLE MATURED Bottled 2011 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Special Reserve lgv. 4 / 4 9 9 Special Release Limited Edition Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay
LAGAVULIN INFO Aged 8 years
48 % LIMITED 1 8 1 6 to 2 0 1 6 Edition 200th Anniversary Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay
"We journeyed through The Village of Lagavulin." "The Mill in the Valley" and no prettier or more Romantic spot could have been chosen for a distillery, we tasted some eight years old before starting. Which was "EXCEPTIONALLY FINE"
Islay The Kildalton Distilleries LAGAVULIN (1816
Port Ellen, Islay, Argyll. Licentiehouder: White Horse Distillers Ltd. Onderdeel van Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd. (S.M.D.). De malt divisie van United Distillers Ltd. Eigendom van Guin-ness. Omstreeks 1742 waren op deze plaats een tiental illegale distilleerderijen in bedrijf.
Dit zorgde voor een relatieve welvaart voor de bewoners, want er wordt vermeld dat bijna elk gezin een koe en een paard bezat. Hieraan kwam een eind in 1823 toen een nieuwe wet zorgde voor een mildere vorm van belasling heffen op het maken van whisky op het vasteland van Schotland.
Er waren toen twee legale distilleerderijen te Lagavulin, waarvan één was gesticht in 1816 door John Johnston, lid van een whisky dynastie op Islay, begonnen op de Tallant boerderij, bij Bowmore, werd Laphroaig in 1826 gesticht door John Johnston's zoon Donald.
Toen John Johnston stierf in 1836 werd de waarde van de distilleerderij geschat op E 1692.
In December 1836 werd Alexander Graham, whiskyhandelaar te Glasgow, en eigenaar van de Islay Cellar, die whisky van Islay verkocht te Glasgow, de eigenaar.
Een taxatie gedaan in 1837 door Donald MacDougall bewijst dat er twee distilleerderijen waren gedurende de pachtperiode van John Johnstone: het ketelhuis no. 2, brouwerij en mouterij No. 4 waren eigendom van de landeigenaar Walter Frederick Campbell, en was de Ardmore distilleerderij, Lagavulin zelf werd getaxeerd op E 1,103 9 s en 8d. uitgezonderd de boerderij.
Alexander Graham verkreeg een nieuw pachtcontract in 1837 voor 19 jaar. Zijn zoons Walter en John Crawford Graham waren de distillateurs tot 1848 toen Donald Johnston van Laphroaig stierf en zijn erven Walter Graham vroegen de leiding van Laphroaig op zich te nemen tot Donald's zoon Dugald Johnston oud genoeg was om de distilleerderij over te nemen.
Dit gebeurde in December 1855, en toen keerde Walter weer terug naar Lagavulin. Na de dood van Alexander Graham in 1850, verdeelde John Crawford Graham zijn tijd tussen Lagavulin en de Islay Cellar te Glasgow. Zijn zakelijke contacten te Glasgow brachten hem in contact met James Logan Mackie, die zijn partner zou worden in Lagavulin. In Februari 1861 werd door John Ramsay aan de compagnons een nieuw pachtcontract verleend voor vijf jaar tegen een betaling van E 200 voor het eerste jaar en E 235 per jaar voor de volgende jaren. Tegelijkertijd besloten de deelgenoten tot een waardebepaling van land en distilleerderij en dit zorgde ervoor dat de relatie met de landeigenaar John Ramsay enige tijd wat moeilijk was.
De moeilijkheid lag hem daarin dat de Graham's veel hadden verbeterd en vergroot aan de gebouwen van Lagavulin. Lagavulin was toen één van de grootste distilleerderijen op Islay. Peter Mackie, een neef van James Logan Mackie werd in 1878 deelgenoot in de onderneming. De produktie was toen (in 1887) 1950 hectoliter en werd hoofdzakelijk verkocht in Glasgow, Engeland en de kolonies. De relaties waren intussen niet zo slecht geworden dat er niet een nieuw pachtcontract werd aangegaan, nu voor 28 jaar tussen Ramsay, Graham en Mackie. Peter Jeffrey Mackie werd in 1889 enig deelgenoot en in 1890 werd de blended whisky White Horse uitgebracht. In datzelfde jaar werd de naam van de onderneming veranderd in Mackie & Co en werd tevens een naamloze vennootschap. De bijnaam van Peter Jeffrey Mackie was 'Restless Peter', hij was een werkalcoholic, entre-preneur, uitvinder en had overal een mening over. Hij had als lijfspreuk: 'Niets is onmogelijk'.
Tot 1907 had Mackie & Co ook de vertegenwoordiging van Laproaig, via de Islay Cellar, maar als gevolg van een meningsverschil wie van de twee, Lagavulin of Laphroaig, de waterrechten had op de Surnaig Burn, raakte Mackie & Co deze vertegenwoordiging kwijt.
Peter Mackie bouwde in 1908, binnen het Lagavulin complex een nieuwe distilleerderij, op de plaats van de vroegere Ardmore distilleerderij, om whisky te gaan maken in de stijl van Laphroaig. De naam van de distilleerderij The Malt Mill, en bleef bestaan tot in 1962 toen de ketels
werden toegevoegd aan die van Lagavulin en in 1969 werden vervangen door ketels van het Lagavulin type.
In het begin van de jaren twintig was Lagavulin één van de distilleerderijen die Iain Ramsay noorgedwongen moest verkopen. Peter Mackie, toen al Sir Peter, maakte problemen over de waterrechten, Ramsay wilde alleen een smal stuk grond aan weerszijden van de bron naar de distilleerderij, terwijl Peter Mackie zoveel mogelijk land wilde hebben.
Uiteindelijk werd Lagavulin distilleerderij, boerderij, turfvelden en waterrechten verkocht voor E 16000.
Mackie & Co kocht Craigellachie in 1915.
Na de dood van Sir Peter Mackie in 1924 werd de naam van de onderneming veranderd in White Horse Distillers Ltd.
In 1927 werd White Horse overgenomen door The Distillers Company Ltd. (D.C.L).
In 1930 werd White Horse Distillers Ltd onderdeel van Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd, de malt divisie van de D.C.L.
Vrouwen werden te Lagavulin tewerkgesteld van 1939 tot 1941, toen mannen werden opgeroepen vanwege de oorlogs dreiging. On 1941 werd Lagavulin gesloten tot aan het einde van de tweede wereldoorlog. In 1969 ging Lagavulin over op verhitting door stoom van zijn ketels. Lagavulin had ook een eigen schip, (evenals vroeger Bowmore) de Pibroch. De eerste Pibroch was een Clyde 'Puffer'. 'Puffers' werden zo genoemd vanwege het soort machines dat de schepen voortbewoog, ze produceerden rook als een stoomlocomotief.
De Pibroch bracht kolen, gerst en lege vaten van Port Dundas, via het Forth and Clyde Canal, de Firth of Clyde en de Atlantische Oceaan naar Lagavulin, en nam volle vaten met whisky mee terug. De eerste Pibroch werd ontworpen in 1924.
Na 1930 werd ook Caol Ila aangedaan en in de zomermaanden ook Talisker.
De Pibroch is het onderwerp van heel wat verhalen, tweemaal werden schipbreukelingen gered, één keer negen mensen en één maal dertien mensen, wat de Pibroch de bijnaam opleverde van 'Fleetwood Lifeboat'. Het bleef de gewoonte tijdens zijn diensttijd dat elk passerend vissersschip een mandje vis gaf aan de bemanning van de Pibroch.
Ook was er een ontmoeting met een Duitse onderzeeboot, het schip was toen geladen met volle vaten whisky, maar de Pibroch werd niet de moeite waard gevonden om er een torpedo aan te wagen.
Toen de tweede Pibroch in gebruik werd genomen, een motorschip, kreeg de oude Pibroch de naam Texa, naar het kleine eiland voor de kust van Islay, en werd weer later omgedoopt in Cumbrae Lass.
In 1967 werd de Pibroch gesloopt.
Lagavulin, wat Keltisch is voor 'dal van de molen' is gelegen op een heel romantische plek aan een naturrlijke haven met uitzicht op Dunyveg Castle, waarvan het vroegst gebouwde deel stamt uit 1090. Donald MacDonald vergrootte het in 1207 toen hij 'Lord of the Isles' werd, nu één van de titels van Koningin Elizabeth.
Dunyveg is Keltisch en wil zeggen 'het fort van de kleine schepen'. Hier scheepten zich 1000 mannen van Islay in om met hun koning Robert The Bruce, koning van Schotland te vechten tegen de Engelsen in de slag van Bannockburn, dat was in 1314.
De vier peer- vormige ketels van Lagavulin hebben een capaciteit van 1,4 miljoen liter spirit per jaar.
De ketels worden met stoom verhit. Proceswater en koelwater komt van Loch Sholum. Mout betrekt men van Port Ellen Maltings. De Mash tun is 4,32 ton. De tien Wash backs zijn elk 22.000 liter. De twee Wash stills zijn elk 0 liter, de twee Spirit stills elk 11.000 liter.
Alfred Barnard, author of The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, 1887, visited Lagavulin and was told that up to about 1821 illicit distillation had been a lucrative trade in Islay, "the chief employment of the crofters and fishermen, more especially during the winter. In those days every smuggler could clear at least ten shillings a day, and keep a horse and cow." The reduction of the duty on whisky in 1823 put an end to the contraband trade.
There were two legal distilleries at Lagavulin in that period. One had been founded in 1816 by John Johnston and the other a year later by Archibald Campbell. Johnston died in 1836, when the total value of the distillery, malt mill, farm and dwelling house was calculated to be £1,692. Alexander Graham (a spirit merchant in Glasgow) owed him£120 for the "balance in his hands of the proceeds of Aqua" (the trade name for whisky) and must have been his sales agent. A year later, there was only one distillery at Lagavulin. The Grahams acquired it about this time and, according to Barnard, eventually "repaired the place and made considerable additions and improvements. During the past thirty years the works have been somewhat enlarged to meet the growing demand for the product; nevertheless the older character of the place has been preserved, and there is not a modern building to be seen, except for one or two new bonded warehouses". It is still a cluster of buildings from different periods.
Annual output in 1887 was 0 gallons (1,950 hectolitres). The make was "principally sold in Glasgow, England and the Colonies", and used largely for blending purposes, but also sold as a single whisky; "there are only a few of the Scotch distillers that turn out spirit for use as single whiskies, and that made at Lagavulin can claim to be one of the most prominent". Barnard tasted some eight-year old whisky "which was exceptionally fine". At this date, James Logan Mackie & Co.. successors to Graham & Co., carried on business as distillers at Lagavulin, and as whisky merchants and importers of brandy and claret at 5 Dixon Street, Glasgow. Peter Mackie, anephewof J.L. Mackie, joined the business in 1878 and paid the first of many visits to Lagavulin in that year. The name of the firm was altered to Mackie & Co. in 1890. Peter Mackie succeeded as senior partner; the business was turned into a limited liability company, White Horse was launched as a blended Scotch whisky and the firm's export business was greatly increased. "Restless Peter", as his staff named him, was an entrepreneur dedicated to hard work, rigid discipline and meticulous planning. The Times observed in its obituary notice that "he had the restlessness of a vigorous mind, and was constantly planning fresh enterprises, most of which he succeeded in carrying out". That was hardly surprising, since he was immensely self-confident, was a rich man in his own right, the owner of 0 acres (4,856 hectares) in Ayrshire and Argyllshire, and an autocrat in his own company.
One of Peter Mackie's favourite sayings was: "Nothing is impossible". Ventures that he promoted included BBM ("Bran, Bone and Muscle") flour, mixed according to a secret recipe by machinery under the board-room, and which every member of Mackie's staff had to use at home, the manufacture of feeding-cake for farm animals, and of concrete slabs and partitions, the weaving of Highland tweed and the distribution of Carragheen moss. All were given up, to the general relief, after his time.
Another product of his zest for experiment was longer-lasting. Two of the older buildings at Lagavulin, believed to have been formerly a still house and makings, were returned to their previous use under the name of Malt Mill Distillery. This happened in 1908, a year after Mackie lost the sales agency for Laphroaig. The aim was to distil a whisky according to the techniques believed to have been used by the pre-industrial Islay distillers. A visitor reported that "so thoroughly has Malt Mill been modelled on the ancient lines that there is almost a genuine air of antiquity about the malting floor, the dark haircloth-surfaced kiln and the quaint open fireplace with its brazier of burning peat". No coal was burned in the kiln: only peat. The two stills and three small wash-backs were much smaller than Lagavulin's and the final product was quite different. After Sir Peter's death in 1924, Mackie & Co. changed its name to White Horse Distillers Ltd. Three years later, it joined The Distillers Company Limited; and in 1930, when the malt whisky distilling activities of the DCL Group were reorganised, Lagavulin was taken into the ownership of Scottish Malt Distillers. Women were employed to work the distillery between 1939 and 1941, when it closed for the remaining duration of the second world war. Malt Mill Distillery was closed down in 1962 when it became necessary to build a new and larger stillhouse for Lagavulin. Its two pear-shaped stills were added to the two Lagavulin stills, all four coal-fired by a mechanical stoker system. The former Malt Mill stills were replaced by two stills of the traditional Lagavulin type, and thecomplete unit of four stills heated by steam from an oil-fired boiler in 1969. Another link with the past was broken a few years later. For almost thirty years Lagavulin's link with the mainland had been a company-owned coaster. The first, SS Pibroch, was a Clyde "puffer". Puffers got their name from the type of engine used in the early vessels, which punched out smoke like a steam locomotive. Pibroch was designed in 1924 to transport barley, coal and empty casks from Glasgow to Lagavulin, returning with filled casks. After the transfer of all Group malt whisky distilleries to SMD in 1930, the journey was extended to Caol Ila Distillery, on Islay, and in the summer months to Talisker Distillery on Skye.
The second Pibroch, a motor vessel, continued the run from 1956 until the advent of roll-on, roll-off vehicle ferries at Port Ellen and Port Askaig in the early 1970's. Today whisky from SMD's distilleries on Islay is despatched in Crown-locked vans by these routes. They get their malt from Port Ellen Makings. Lagavulin's former floor makings are now a store, and Malt Mill's were converted into a reception centre for visitors in 1980. The distillery occupies a site of about 6 acres (2 1/2 hectares) on Lagavulin Bay. The ruins of Dunyveg Castle, a stronghold of the MacDonalds, at its entrance, indicate the long-standing significance of the inlet as a landing-place. All of Islay's distilleries were built on the shore line to make possible the despatch and receipt of goods to and from small coasting vessels. In Barnard's time, Lagavulin whisky was "mostly shipped from Port Ellen", but some was "floated out to ships" from the distillery. Lagavulin's water supply comes from Solan Lochs, where SMD owns the water rights. The company also owns 15 houses for occupation by employees, and Lagavulin Farm, which covers about 400 acres (162 hectares), is let to tenants and is used mainly for raising cattle. The distiller's licence is held by White Horse Distillers Ltd., Glasgow, blenders of White Horse and Logan de luxe Scotch whisky, and bottlers of Lagavulin single malt whisky.
Distillery operating hours:7 days a week, 24 hours a day Number of emplyees:15 Water source:Sholum Loch and Lochan Water reserve:not known Water colour:brown Peat content of water:trace Malt source:Port Ellen Own floor maltings:no Malt type:Optic Malt specification phenols:avergage 35 ppm Finished spirit: phenols:average 16-18 ppm Malt storage:360 tonnes Mill type:Porteus, installed 1963 Grist storage:4.32 tonnes Mash tun construction:stainless steel, Lauter Mash size:4.32 tonnes First water:16.400 litres at 69o C Second water:continuous process (5.000 litres at 68o C added to washback Third water returns to hot water tank) Number of washbacks:10 Washback construction: larch Washback charge:21.300 litres Yeast: Mauri and Quest cultered yeasts (50/50) Amount of yeast:50 kg per washback Lenght of fermentation:55 hours Initial fermentation temperature:18o 0 Strenght of wash:8.9 per cent abv Number of wash still: 2 Wash stills built:1966 Wash still capacity:12.300 litres Wash still charge: 10.500 litres (85 per cent of capacity) Heat source: steam coils and pans Wash still height: 22 feet 6 inches (6.89 m) Wash still shape: plain Lyne arm:steeply descending Lenght of low-wines run:c. 4 hours Low-wines collection range:50 per cent abv - 0.1 per cent abv Number of spirit stills:2 Spirit stills built:1966 Spirit still capacity: 12.900 litres Spirit still charge:12.200 litres (95 per cent of capacity) Strenght of spirit still charge: c. 25 per cent abv Heat source:steam coils Spirit still height: 18 feet 10 inches (5.73 m) Spirit still shape:plain Lyne arm:gently descending Purifier:no Condensers: internally sited, 9 feet (2.74 m) long, eachcontaining 121 1-inch (2.54 cm) tubes Lenght of foreshot run:30 minutes Lenght of spirit run:5 hours Lenght of feints run:4 hours 30 minutes Spirit cut:72 per cent abv - 59 per cent abv Distilling strength:68.5 per cent abv average Storage strenght: 63.5 per cent abv Average spirit yield: 405 litres of pure alcohol per tonne of malt (2003) Disposal of pot ale and spent lees: tankered to Caol Ila, then dispersed in Sound ofIslay Type of casks filled for branded malt:99,5 per cent third-fill American oak hogsheads; 0.5 per cent third-fill sherry butts Current annual output: 2.300.000 litres of pure alcohol (2003) Number of warehouses:3 at Lagavulin (numbered 1, 2, 3); 9 at Port Ellen (numbered 4, 2, 3, 7, 8, 12 to north of road, with 5 and 6 to south of road); plus 1 at Caol Ila Type of warehouses:dunnage Storage capacity on Islay:7.000 casks at Lagavulin; 7.000 casks at Port Ellen ;2.000 casks (and rising) at Caol Ila Percentage of branded maltentirely aged on Islay: well under 50 per cent Vatting and bottling location non-Islay stocks:matured at Blackgrange,near Alloa; vatting and bottling at Leven in Fife Distillery expressions:12- year old cask strenght (58 per cent abv, un-chill-filtered 16- year old Distiller's Edition (approx. 16- year old, finished in ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks25- year old cask strenght (57 per cent abv, un- chill-filtered Major blending roles:none; small role in White Horse
October 2005 De Classic Malts of Scotland serie, bestaande uit: Glenkinchie 10 years old, Dalwhinnie 15 years old, Cragganmore 12 years old, Oban 14 years old, Talisker 10 years old, Lagavulin 16 years old
verandert van samenstelling Oban 14 year old wordt vervangen door Glen Elgin 12 years old, Lagavulin 16 years old wordt vervangen door Caol Ila 12 years old Dit komt omdat de betrokken distilleerderijen de produktie niet meer aankunnen.
CLASSIC MALT SELECTION tegelijkertijd wordt onder de naam Classic Malts Selection een 3- Bottle Plinth uitgebracht met: Glen Elgin 12 years old, Talisker 10 years old, Caol Ila 12 years old
Glen Elgin Speyside 12 years old FRUITY Natuur geuren 15 % Fruitigheid 60 % Turf 10 % Houttonen 15 % deze malt kenmerkt zich door zijn volle en zachte smaak met een explosie van vers geel fruit
Talisker Skye 10 years old POWERFUL Natuur geuren Fruitigheid 30 % Turf 70 % Houttonen een aromatische, explosieve en prikkelende malt van Skye die uiteindelijk ook zoete tonen laat proeven
CAOL ILA Islay 12 years old SMOKY Natuur geuren 50 % Fruitigheid Turf 50 % Houttonen een malt met een duidelijk karakter, krachtig compleet met zee-aroma's en de geur van hout-vuur.
Guinness nam Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd in 1986 over en in 1987 The Distillers Company Ltd. (D.C.L)
Beiden tegen hun zin. In 1898 werden beide groepen van bedrijven samengevoegd en de nieuwe naam werd United Distillers Ltd.
Op 12 Mei 1997 staakt de Fransman Bernard Arnault van L M V H zijn verzet tegen de fusie van Guinness en Grand Metropolitan (GrandMet) voor een afkoopsom van ƒ 800.000.000
De nieuwe naam van de gefuseerden zou eerst G M G Brands worden maar op 22 October werd bekend dat de naam Diageo zou worden, afgeleid van het Lateinse woord voor dag en het Griekse woord voor wereld. Diageo wordt het grootste drankenconcern ter wereld, groter dan Seagram en Allied Domecq samen en met een omzet van 40 miljard gulden.
Op 28 Maart 1998 verkoopt Diageo het whiskymerk Dewar's en het ginmerk Bombay voor E 1,15 miljard aan Bacardi Martini. Het afstoten van de twee merken was een voorwaarde die door de Amerikaanse mededingingsautoriteiten was gesteld aan de goedkeuring van de fusie tussen Guinness en Grand Metropolitan.
Dewar's heeft een omzet van ruim één miljard gulden en een marktaandeel van 10 %. Het merk is marktleider in de V.S.
Diageo is de overkoepelende naam voor vier ondernemingen: United Distillers & Vintners, (U.D.V.), Pilsbury, Guinness en Burger King. Onderdeel van de verkoop houdt ook in de overname van de distilleerderijen Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie en Royal Brackla door Bacardi Martini. Balmenach wordt in December 1997 verkocht aan Inver House. The Distillers Edition De juiste houten vaten selecteren om een single malt in te laten rijpen is traditioneel één van de vaardigheden van de distillateur. De kombinatie van het hout en de pas gedistilleerde alcohol is mede bepalend voor het karakter van de malt whisky. Als de grijpte whisky later opnieuw een tijdje doorbrengt in een tweede vat kan hij aan diepte en komplexiteit winnen. November 1997 werden een beperkt aantal vaten van de zes Classic Malts gebotteld, waarvan de whiskies deze bewerking hebben ondergaan. Pedro - Ximenez, zo heet het intens zoete produkt van de zongerijpte, gouden druiven die tot half September aan de wijnstokken blijven hangen om extra suikers en smaak te ontwikkelen. Hoewel deze traditionele zoete wijn van Jerez overal wordt geprezen om zijn likeurachtige eigenschappen, is hij zelden buiten Spanje te vinden, daarvoor is hij te sterk in trek als zoetmaker voor het mengen van wijn. De houten vaten waarin hij rijpt verlaten zelden het Spaanse grondgebied. Door zijn rijke, intense karakter is Pedro - Ximenez een sublieme partner voor de Islay malt Lagavulin.
October 2005 Diageo has announced that its 2005 Annual Rare Malts Selection will be the last. The collection will consist of four cask strenght single malts from closed distilleries; Glen Mhor 28 years old, Millburn 35 years old, Glendullan 26 years old and Linkwood 30 years old. Dr. Nicholas Morgan, global malts marketing director commented: 'As the Special Releases are now well established, it makes less sence to continue selecting and promoting a parallel series of Rare Malts with his own separate indentity'. In future, all premium and rare whiskies will be made available in the annual Special Releases series
Founded in 1816 on the island of Islay, Lagavulin was originally part of 2 distilleries contstructed by John Johnston and Archibald Campbell. One distillery, Malt Mill, closed and Lagavulin took over the buildings. Lagavulin comes from the Gaelic Lag a' Mhuilinn meaning "hollow of the mill'. Prior to the sadly early 19th century, the area was home to countless illicit whisky moonshiners and other nefarious characters.
What actually happened was that Lagavulin became the runaway success, to the extent that it had to be put on allocation. That its growth coincided with a period where mature stock was limited (the bad old days of the 80s and early 90s) didn’t help. Today, it runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just to try and keep up with ever-growing global demand. The world has fallen in love with smoke and Lagavulin’s complex mix of seashore and moor, pipe smoke, Lapsang Souchong, bog myrtle, and rich dark fruits is a destination for many.
Though fermentation times have been cut, introducing a cereal note to the new make, the second distillation remains extremely long, maximising reflux. Ageing is predominantly in refill casks, but in recent years some ex-Sherry casks have appeared as part of a controlled programme of small batch releases, while a small amount of a higher strength 12-year-old is released annually for the real peat heads.
Founded on Islay’s south [Kildalton] coast and situated between Ardbeg and Laphroaig, legal distilling was started at Lagavulin in 1816 by John Johnston. A second distillery shared the site which was first bought by the same family in 1825, before production was absorbed into Lagavulin in 1837.
It came to wider public awareness in 1862 when blender John Logan Mackie bought the distillery. His nephew Peter J. Mackie made the first of many trips to Islay in 1878 to learn the secrets of distilling and eventually take over production of Lagavulin. Sir Peter Mackie, as he became, was one of the pre-eminent figures of late 19th century whisky. He created the White Horse blend in 1890, co-founded Craigellachie distillery and was noted as a great innovator.
In 1908, irritated by the loss of the agency for Laphroaig, Mackie built a replica distillery at Lagavulin which he called Malt Mill. It ran until 1962 and though it was set up to produce the same character as Laphroaig – which is only two miles away – it never did. Neither did it make Lagavulin. A (fictitious) cask of Malt Mill played a central role in film director Ken Loach’s comedy The Angel’s Share.
The distillery floor maltings shut in 1974. They now form the visitor’s centre and admin offices.
Lagavulin is founded by John Johnstone in Port Ellen on Islay
Johnstone branches out and also takes over the adjacent Ardmore distillery, which has lain closed since 1821
Ten years after purchasing the distillery, Johnstone ceases production at Ardmore
Johnstone dies and the distillery is purchased by Glasgow spirit merchant Alexander Graham
The two distilleries are merged and operated as Lagavulin
John Crawford Graham takes over the distillery
Lagavulin moves into the hands of James Logan Mackie & Co who refurbishes it
James Logan Mackie dies and his nephew, Peter Mackie, assumes control of the distillery
The group changes its name to Mackie & Co and launches White Horse into export markets
Mackie builds a second distillery on the site, Malt Mill
When Peter Mackie passes away the group changes its name to White Horse Distillers
White Horse Distillers becomes part of DCL
The distillery is closed for the remainder of WWII
A destructive fire breaks out at the distillery
Malt Mill is closed
Lagavulin's floor maltings are decommissioned
Lagavulin 16 Year Old is selected as one of the six Classic Malts
A triple-matured expression is released for the Friends of the Classic Malts
CONDENSER TYPE i
Shell and tube
FERMENTATION TIME i
FILLING STRENGTH i
GRIST WEIGHT (T) i
HEAT SOURCE i
MALT SPECIFICATION i
MALT SUPPLIER i
Mainly in house
MASH TUN TYPE i
NEW-MAKE PHENOL LEVEL i
NEW-MAKE STRENGTH i
SPIRIT STILL CHARGE (L) i
SPIRIT STILL SHAPE i
WASH STILL CHARGE (L) i
WASH STILL SHAPE i
WASHBACK TYPE i
WATER SOURCE i
WORT CLARITY i
1997 - present
1986 - 1997
Distillers Company Limited
1927 - 1986
White Horse Distillers
1924 - 1927
Mackie & Co
1867 - 1924
James Crawford Graham
1852 - 1867
1837 - 1852
1816 - 1837
MALT MILL DISTILLERY
One of the more colourful lost distilleries, Malt Mill produced a peated whisky that contributed to some of Mackie & Co., and White Horse Distillers’ blends, including White Horse and Mackie’s Ancient Scotch.
Malt Mill shared Lagavulin’s mash tun, but has two washbacks and two pear-shaped stills of its own, modelled after those at Laphroaig.
Malt Mill was born in 1908 from an acrimonious falling out between the owners of Lagavulin and Laphroaig.
At the start of the 20th century Lagavulin owner Peter Mackie was also agent for neighbouring distillery Laphroaig though his company, Mackie & Co. The commercial agreement stayed in place for many decades, however, the death of Laphroaig owner Alex Johnston in 1907 brought his nephew, Ian Hunter, to the island.
Hunter, a newly qualified engineer, was disappointed by the state of the agency agreement. He felt Laphroaig was not getting the best returns since Mackie was demanding most of the distillery’s output for its own blends. What ensued was a bitter court case, in which Mackie lost the right to represent Laphroaig.
So enraged, Mackie went so far as to block Laphroaig’s water supply, which resulted in a second court case to get it restored.
Ultimately, Mackie built a replica of Laphroaig distillery within Lagavulin called Malt Mill, and even pinched Laphroaig’s head brewer to ensure the spirit produced was exactly the same as his neighbour’s. Of course it wasn’t. It wasn’t Lagavulin either.
Malt Mill’s whisky was used as a contribution to the company’s blends, most notably White Horse and Mackie’s Ancient Scotch, which featured the name of the distillery on the label. It was never – as far as historians know – bottled as a single malt.
The distillery was eventually closed in 1962, its equipment incorporated into Lagavulin.
The last remaining monuments of the distillery are its maltings, which shut in 1974 and were converted into a reception centre for VIP visitors, and one solitary sample bottle of new make spirit from Malt Mill’s last spirit run. It is currently on display in Lagavulin’s visitor centre.
A mythical cask of Malt Mill played a pivotal role in Ken Loach’s 2012 hit film, The Angel’s Share.
LAGAVULIN 8 YEAR OLD JOINS CORE RANGE
Lagavulin 8 Year Old, released as a limited-edition single malt to mark the Islay distillery’s bicentenary in 2016, is now joining the range on a permanent basis.
Lagavulin 8 Year Old
Permanent expression: Lagavulin 8 Year Old was released to mark the distillery’s bicentenary
Lagavulin owner Diageo is set to release the permanent expression next Monday (13 November), bottled at 48% abv and priced roughly 15% below Lagavulin 16 Year Old.
The company said it had decided to sell Lagavulin 8 Year Old in the US, Canada, Taiwan, Japan and parts of Europe because of the ‘incredibly positive response’ to the 200th anniversary bottling.
It was inspired by the visit of Victorian whisky writer Alfred Barnard to the distillery in the late 1880s, when he sampled an 8-year-old Lagavulin, describing it as ‘exceptionally fine’ and ‘held in high repute’ in his book The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom.
Lagavulin distillery manager Georgie Crawford said: ‘The 8 Year Old is a signature Lagavulin-style bottling with a liveliness that balances out the Islay smokiness.
‘We hope that Lagavulin fans will enjoy this bottling, just as Alfred Barnard did centuries ago.’
Fiery blended whisky pioneer and staunch Scottish Unionist, ‘Restless Peter’ Mackie took on all-comers, from distillery rivals to Liberal Chancellors. Gavin D Smith tells the tale of one of the leading figures of the early 20th-century Scotch whisky industry.
Sir Peter Mackie
Strong personality: Peter Mackie was one of Scotch's most energetic and committed figures
‘One-third genius, one-third megalomaniac and one-third eccentric.’
So wrote author, diplomat and secret agent Sir Robert Bruce-Lockhart about one of the true pioneers of blended Scotch whisky, a man nicknamed ‘Restless Peter’ by his contemporaries. His real name was Peter Jeffrey Mackie.
Mackie was born on 26 November 1855 in St Ninians, near Stirling, the son of a farmer and grain merchant, Alexander Mackie.
At the age of 23, he started work for his uncle, James Logan Mackie, whose Glasgow-based whisky firm Mackie & Co had been established the year after Peter’s birth.
Mackie worked in partnership with John Graham, whose family leased the Islay distillery of Lagavulin, and Peter was immediately sent there to learn the art of distillation. This gave him an invaluable practical knowledge of the whisky industry.
The Mackies began to blend whisky during the mid-1880s, with Lagavulin at its heart, and Peter Mackie registered the ‘White Horse’ brand in 1891, a year after Mackie & Co (Distillers) was established, with Peter as a partner.
The name White Horse was chosen because of the Mackie family’s centuries-long association with the famous White Horse coaching Inn, situated on Edinburgh’s Canongate.
In 1895 Mackie’s became a limited company, with Peter as chairman, by which time the White Horse blend was enjoying success in a number of export markets, and the firm decided it needed to become involved in distillery ownership in order to secure a supply of malt spirit.
Accordingly, Mackie’s became one of the partners in the Craigellachie Distillery Co Ltd, which in 1891 constructed Craigellachie distillery on Speyside. Mackie & Co (Distillers) Ltd went on to take full control of Craigellachie during 1916.
Peter Mackie had a large sign in his office at 13 Carlton Place, Glasgow, bearing the legend Take nothing for granted, and he was described by Allen Andrews in his 1977 book The Whisky Barons as ‘The fieriest of all the modern pioneers of blended Scotch whisky…’
This temperament was well illustrated by the creation of Malt Mill distillery in 1908 and by his response to Liberal Chancellor David Lloyd George’s Budget the following year.
As well as his association with Lagavulin, Peter Mackie also acted as sales agent for nearby Laphroaig distillery. When he lost this role due to a disagreement over water rights, he decided to make his own version of Laphroaig.
Accordingly, he constructed a small distillery named Malt Mill within the Lagavulin site, poaching Laphroaig staff to run it for him and firing the stills using only peat. Despite never proving a danger to Laphroaig’s sales, Malt Mill continued to operate until 1960.
Peter Mackie’s next battle was waged against Lloyd George. Mackie was a staunch Tory who was outraged by the ‘People’s Budget’ of April 1909. The provisions included an increase in distillers’ licence fees and in duty on spirits by 3s 6d, from 11s to 14s 6d. This was a rise of approximately one-third, and all Scotch whisky distillers were predictably furious.
Peter Mackie provided the most memorable response to the Budget when he declared that:
‘The whole framing of the Budget is that of a faddist and a crank and not a statesman. But what can one expect of a Welsh country solicitor being placed, without any commercial training, as Chancellor of the Exchequer in a large country like this?’
When it came to blending whisky, Peter Mackie was passionate about quality, using significant amounts of well-aged component malt whiskies, and he campaigned for a minimum age specification for Scotch whisky.
White Horse took its name from an Edinburgh coaching inn
The distillery chronicler Alfred Barnard was commissioned by Mackie to produce a pamphlet about the company’s distilleries and blending operations, and the chapter entitled How to blend whisky is revealing of Mackie’s modus operandi.
‘By request we give an example of a blend that has been most popular both at home and abroad. Average age, seven years.’
This is presumably White Horse, and Barnard describes the composition – with only one-quarter grain whisky – as follows:
3 Glenlivets_____________5 parts
2 Islays________________3 “
2 Lowland Malts_________3 “
1 Campbeltown_________ 1 “
2 Grains_______________4 “
Although whisky was his abiding passion, ‘Restless Peter’ Mackie managed to find time to involve himself in a wide variety of interests, including the manufacture of BBM – ‘Bran, Bone and Muscle’ flour – which was prepared in the basement of the firm’s Glasgow premises, with all company employees being instructed to buy it for baking purposes.
As an active and vocal member of the Scottish Unionist Association, he wrote and spoke extensively about tariff reform and federalism, travelling widely in the process.
He was also an estate owner in Argyllshire, donating cattle from his own herd to Rhodesia in 1918 in order to encourage livestock breeding there. He even financed an anthropological expedition to Uganda.
Mackie was created a baronet in the 1920 Birthday Honours, and in the same year Mackie & Co (Distillers) Ltd acquired Hazelburn distillery in Campbeltown.
When in the ensuing years Campbeltown whiskies began to gain an unwelcome reputation for poor quality, Mackie announced that his Hazelburn distillery was no longer producing Campbeltown whisky – but Kintyre whisky.
It is said that Sir Peter Mackie was amenable to the sale of his company in the early 1920s, partly because his son and likely successor had been killed during the First World War. Unsuccessful negotiations were held with John Dewar & Sons, prior to Mackie’s death in September 1924 at Corraith in Ayrshire.
In that year the firm was renamed White Horse Distillers Ltd and became a public company, ultimately being taken over by the mighty Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) three years later.
DCL – and its successor company Diageo – continued to develop the White Horse brand, which now sells principally in Japan, Brazil, Greece, the UK, Africa and the US.
It still boasts a relatively high malt content and has a peaty character redolent of Lagavulin – a fitting legacy for one of the whisky industry’s most energetic and committed figures.
GEORGIE CRAWFORD TO REVIVE PORT ELLEN
Lagavulin distillery manager Georgie Crawford is to leave her post in order to bring cult Islay single malt Port Ellen back into production.
Georgie Crawford is ‘thrilled’ to take on the task of reviving Port Ellen
Meanwhile, Clynelish site operations manager Stewart Bowman will quit his role to revive single malt whisky production at neighbouring Brora in the Highlands, distillery owner Diageo has announced.
Crawford and Bowman will both have the title of project implementation manager for their respective distilleries – part of Diageo’s plans to revive production at the two sites, announced last October.
The moves also see Colin Gordon, currently site operations manager at Port Ellen Maltings, take over from Crawford as Lagavulin distillery manager.
The changes will take effect shortly after next week’s Islay Festival, Diageo said.
‘It has been a real privilege to be the Lagavulin distillery manager and to work with the fantastic team there for so many years,’ said Crawford.
‘However, the opportunity to bring Port Ellen distillery back into production truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am thrilled to take it on.’
Bowman said he was ‘hugely excited’ to be given the task of reviving production at Brora. ‘The whisky at Brora is revered for its quality, and it is an honour to have the job of bringing distillation back so we can produce a new generation of exceptional Brora Scotch whisky,’ he added.
Port Ellen and Brora both closed in 1983, deemed surplus to requirements during a grim period for the Scotch whisky industry, but have since acquired a cult status among lovers of malt whisky.
They are set to return to production in 2020 – Brora by refurbishing existing buildings, and Port Ellen in a new building on the Islay site.
Meanwhile, Diageo has announced details of this year’s Islay Festival bottlings: an 18-year-old cask strength Lagavulin (6,000 bottles, 53.9% abv, £130); and a 10-year-old cask strength Caol Ila (2,496 bottles, 58.2% abv, £100).
LAGAVULIN 9 YEARS OLD, GAME OF THRONES HOUSE LANNISTER
Scoring explained >
Single malt whisky
Smoky & Peaty
The first whiff is all peat smoke and sea salt, but it quickly reveals luscious juicy blackcurrants and fresh mint, raspberry leaf tea and mouthwatering stone fruits. The most alluring nose of the Game of Thrones Collection.
Grilled, almost blackened bananas, blackcurrant coulis and soft gingerbread biscuits. Heavy vanilla cream and crispy marshmallows with deliciously gooey centres, toasted over a beachside bonfire. It’s a tight palate, each element assuming its place in harmony with the next.
Dry but long, with a moreish flavour of salted, almost burnt, caramel.
For a nine-year-old it’s remarkably mature, a beautiful balance between distillery character and cask. It’s best enjoyed neat as it appears to fall apart with water. Apparently a whisky that ‘recalls the Lannisters’ riches’, but it’s far better to share the wealth (and give over the throne, eh Cersei?)
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME
Recovering the Spoils of War with a devilish glee.
‘Lagavulin, or “The Mill Hollow”, is one of the oldest places of habitation in the island, and its situation on the margin of the sea, together with its picturesque surroundings, combine to make it one of the most desirable locations upon the island, so justly designated the Queen of the Hebrides.’
It seems only right to begin with the words of Alfred Barnard, pioneering Victorian whisky writer and traveller, and the inspiration behind the bottling of a limited edition 8-year-old single malt to mark the distillery’s bicentenary.
These words come not from Barnard’s most famous book, The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, but from a smaller work commissioned by Lagavulin owner Mackie & Co, How to Blend Scotch Whisky, which includes a profile of the distillery.
We might set alongside them a line or two from Dr Nick Morgan, head of whisky outreach at Diageo, modern-day owner of Lagavulin, and a historian who has delved deeper than most into the distillery’s past.
‘In my own personal view – and I have a lot of heart for Lagavulin – it transcends Islay. It transcends the west coast and it almost transcends Scotland. It’s down to the place, the people and the liquid, whether it’s the 16-year-old, the new 8-year-old or the older ones. There is magic dust in Lagavulin.’
The Lagavulin story begins, as so often in tales of Scotch whisky, with smuggling and illegality.
‘Lagavulin is the oldest distillery on Islay, the business having been actually commenced by a smuggling fraternity as early as the year 1742.’
At first glance, this Barnard reference is worrisome. Why are we celebrating Lagavulin’s bicentenary now when it really occurred during the Second World War? But the 1742 date (used on many early Lagavulin labels, by the way) refers to the reputed commencement of illicit distillation in about 10 separate bothies in the bay.
Lagavulin only went legit in 1816, when the various enterprises were combined into not one, but initially two distilleries, operating side by side and owned by the same family, the Johnstons. The second plant, confusingly named Ardmore, ceased production shortly afterwards.
‘First we must say that the salubrity of atmosphere, good water, and the finest quality of malt have much to do with the production of Lagavulin whisky… Lagavulin has a high reputation both at home and abroad; as a single whisky its reputation is unique, and it is one of the few Highland whiskies that can be drunk alone.’
Barnard’s words date from the late Victorian era, but Lagavulin’s high renown was evident some decades earlier, according to Dr Morgan’s research. ‘The thing that Lagavulin had is a reputation that far exceeded that of almost any other single malt in Scotland,’ he claims, citing a host of references in short stories, novellas and newspaper serialisations.
‘These were Victorian times, and people who didn’t talk about drinking a great deal,’ Dr Morgan points out. ‘Writing about the Highlands seems to have given people permission to write about drinking. And when they write about drinking, people seem to have been drinking Lagavulin.’
Nor was this purely a British phenomenon: as well as Thomas Black’s famous words from The Strange Horse of Sunabhal, reprinted on the Lagavulin label, prolific American writer Sylvanus Cobb Jr namechecked Lagavulin in Victorian times, and there were references in British colonial newspapers.
‘We cannot but conclude this notice without adding that we never saw a distillery so orderly managed, nor workmen more industrious; the work of every department goes on like clockwork, and every employé seems to know and do his duty.’
Barnard visited Lagavulin in Peter Mackie’s day – indeed, in his company – and, while Lagavulin already had a strong reputation when Mackie first came to the distillery in 1878, his status as one of the leading figures of the late Victorian Scotch whisky boom helped cement its reputation.
‘When Lagavulin comes under the control of Peter Mackie, he clearly wants to celebrate the fame of his distilleries, as well as creating the White Horse blend,’ says Dr Morgan.
The Lagavulin/White Horse association, made manifest by the painted equine emblem on the roof of the distillery, remains to this day: while most of Lagavulin’s production is destined for bottling as a single malt, it is still part of the White Horse blend.
But the reputation of ‘restless Peter’ is coloured by some of his actions. Irked by the loss of the agency for neighbouring Laphroaig, he built a painstaking replica distillery within Lagavulin, using his knowledge of its operations and even poaching someone from the distillery two miles down the road to seal the deal.
But Malt Mill, as this early micro-distillery became known, didn’t produce Laphroaig. Or Lagavulin, for that matter. ‘It was used in a couple of Mackie blends, particularly Ancient Scotch,’ says Dr Morgan, who found in the latter ‘a very unusual phenolic character, very different to Lagavulin’.
Used for blending and never – as far as we know – bottled as a single malt, Malt Mill ceased operations in 1962 and remains one of the more enigmatic ‘lost’ distilleries, epitomising the elusive nature of distillery character. It is also, as Dr Morgan says, ‘a tribute to Peter Mackie’s bloodymindedness’.
But Mackie’s reputation as an eccentric is only part of the story, Dr Morgan believes. ‘That doesn’t do him justice. He set up the first lab for whisky quality, and he was obsessed with whisky quality and consistency.’ And Lagavulin reaped the rewards.
‘…our guide presented us with a glass of ten years old whisky, matured in a sherry cask, very mellow and well-flavoured, which possessed an exquisite aromatic odour. Lagavulin is generally drunk throughout the island and is much prized by the inhabitants… Lagavulin whisky is sold largely in Scotland, England and the chief foreign markets, and is in such demand that the orders exceed the output, which reaches 100,000 gallons annually.’
Lagavulin today, while dwarfed by bigger brands such as Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet, is a stalwart single malt, a global favourite that was part of the sextet that formed the initial Classic Malts line-up. But why Lagavulin and not, for instance, Caol Ila?
‘Quality and reputation,’ responds Dr Morgan. ‘In the discussions that went into choosing the Classic Malts there were two or three factors in play. One would be quality and reputation – which is quite amorphous, but we all know which distilleries are famous and which aren’t.
‘Then attractiveness: could you take visitors there? It would never have been Caol Ila.’
The deliberations fell short, however, on the matter of supply. ‘The people who made the decision obviously hadn’t read Alfred Barnard, who said demand always exceeds supply,’ says Dr Morgan. ‘Nor had they read the numbers about capacity and available stock.’
Tying Lagavulin to a 16-year-old age statement didn’t help either – and the distillery has remained on allocation for much of its recent past. ‘They never imagined that we would be selling 100,000 cases or whatever it is,’ says Dr Morgan.
In fact, ‘they’ wondered if anyone would want to drink Lagavulin at all. Delving back further into the 1980s when, in Dr Morgan’s words, ‘people were starting to agitate over the evident success of Glenfiddich and Glenmorangie’, The Ascot Cellar collection (a Classic Malts precursor) included a 12-year-old Lagavulin – but only reluctantly.
‘The old established DCL hands didn’t believe that people would drink Talisker, Lagavulin or Caol Ila,’ recalls Dr Morgan. ‘They thought all these things were far too challenging.’
‘[A] quaint and singular distillery, curious not alone for its antiquity but for the historical interest attached to it.’
In the end, a number of factors conspire to give a much-loved distillery like Lagavulin its special status: the liquid, without doubt, but also the place, the people and the history. And, in more practical and prosaic terms, its usefulness as both blending component and stand-alone single malt.
To Dr Morgan, this is the key to why Lagavulin (and Caol Ila) survived the cull of the early 1980s when Port Ellen didn’t.
‘The DCL committee would have looked at a number of issues – the cost of alcohol insofar as they were able, the water supply (which wasn’t very good at Port Ellen), but the key was the recommendations of the blending committees,’ he says.
‘They said which whiskies they wanted and which they didn’t need. Caol Ila and Lagavulin were very important. But, if you’d asked people about Port Ellen even in the 1990s, nobody would have given a fig for it, and apparently it wasn’t a particularly pleasant place to work.’
And so, 200 years on from legal establishment, and considerably longer since distillation began at its location, Lagavulin remains, its buildings huddled into the dramatic landscape of the Kildalton coast, ‘in a romantic situation’, as Barnard himself put it.
The exigencies of the location make expansion problematic, although by no means impossible. Lagavulin is to some extent, to quote Dr Morgan, ‘trapped in its own history’, although he is swift to add: ‘I’m sure if you really wanted to, you could go in and knock down the stillhouse and double its size.
‘But you’d have to be nuts.
LAGAVULIN 19 YEARS OLD, FÈIS ÌLE 2019
Scoring explained >
Lagavulin 19 Years Old, Fèis Ìle 2019
Single malt whisky
Smoky & Peaty
Now things begin to take a more distinctly heavy turn – but without losing the harmonising sweetness which is vital in a balanced, smoky whisky. This starts off with classic Lagavulin rough shag mixed with bog myrtle, the green notes of bay laurels and the pine elements in Lapsang Souchong tea. Alongside this is a rich and robust plummy character; some chocolate ganache with black cherry. The smoke rumbles away, rolling inexorably forward – especially after water is added. Dense, rich and concentrated.
As you might expect from that nose, this is thickly layered and highly complex. It clings to the tongue, with the dark fruits building in weight and silkiness as it reaches the centre, tendrils of scented smoke winding out, adding another layer of complexity. There’s a drier edge now – the ashes of a peat bonfire on the beach along with some seaweed, that bay laurel element, sloe, liquorice and date.
There’s a spark at the back of the throat, which sets the fires burning. You could add water to soften this down or simply let it smoulder into a long finish.
A turbo-charged distiller’s edition. This has sweetness and smoke, but also an extra layer of richness and complexity. A classic, big-boned Laga’.