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LAPHROAIG   7 years old 59,3%      INFO     
SINGLE CASK SCOTCH MALT WHISKY
LAST  BOTTLE  AND  EMPTY
Date distilled Oct 91
Date bottled May 99
Society Cask No. code 29.10
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
Darkness and light.

LAPHROAIG   15 years old 46 %            
1988
THE UN - CHILLFILTERED COLLECTION
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Distilled on: 16 thMarch 1988
Bottled on: 5 th May 2003
Matured in a Refill Sherry Butt
Cask No. 3604
715 Genummerde flessen
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

LAPHROAIG  10 years old 40 %

LAST BOTTLE  AND  EMPTY             
The most richly flavoured
of all Scotch whiskies
D. Johnston & Co, (Laphroaig),
Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay

LAPHROAIG   15 years old 43 %              
The most richly flavoured
of all Scotch whiskies
D. Johnston & Co, (Laphroaig),
Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay
LAPHROAIG   27 years old 50,1 %            
VINTAGE 1967
Distilled 27.11.67
Bottled 11.94
Cask no. 2957
208 bottles
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

LAPHROAIG   21 years old 50,8%       INFO     
Date distilled Apr 73
LAST  BOTTLE  AND  EMPTY

Date bottled Feb 95
Society Cask No. code 29.6
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh

LAPHROAIG   14 years old 43 %
LAST  BOTTLE  AND  EMPTY            
THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MALT
SCOTCH WHISKY SELECTION
Distilled 20.5.81
Bottled 8.95
Cask no. 4601
392 bottles
Van Wees, Holland

LAPHROAIG   10 years old 57.3 %             
The most richly flavoured
of all Scotch whiskies
Original Cask Strenght
Straight from the wood
D. Johnston & Co, (Laphroaig),
Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay

LAPHROAIG   30 years old 43 %                
Extremely Rare
Single Islay Malt Scotch whisky
The most richly flavoured
of all Scotch whiskies
D. Johnston & Co, (Laphroaig).
Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay

LAPHROAIG  15 years old 50 %                  
DIRECTOR'S LAUDABLE SELECTION
THE OLD MALT CASK 50o
Single Cask Bottling
Distilled February 1985
Bottled October 2000
318 bottles
No Chill Filtration
No Colouring
Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd, Glasgow

LAPHROAIG   15 years old 43 %             
Last Bottle and empty
THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MALT
SCOTCH WHISKY SELECTION
Distilled 16/3/88
Refill sherry butt
Butt no. 3598
Distilled 25/3/03
Genummerde flessen
The Ultimate Whisky Company, N.L.

LAPHROAIG   40 years old 42,4 %            INFO
Natural Cask Strenght
Distilled: 1960
Bottled: 2001
Aged naturally in wood
Maturation in Warehouse No. 1
Produced and distilled under the care of
Bessie Williamson
Genummerde flessen
D. Johnston & Co, (Laphroaig).
Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay

LAPHROAIG   11 years old 46 %                  
The Un-Chillfiltered Collection
Signatory Vintage
Vintage 1992
PORT FINSH
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Distilled on: 25.02.1992
Bottled: 20.11.2003
Cask No: 03/258/2
747 numbered Bottles
No Chillfiltration
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

LAPHROAIG   11 years old 60%          
STRAIGHT FROM THE CASK
PORT FINISH
Finished in a Port Cask
Distilled on: 19th Nov 1992
Bottled on 20th Nov 2004
Cask no. 03/158/3
854 Bottles
Bottled by Hand, in Scotland
500 ml Bottles
Signatory Vintage
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co. Ltd, Edinburgh

LAPHROAIG   17 years old 50 %           
THE OLD MALT CASK 50o
A Single Cask Bottling
Distilled February 1985
Bottled May 2002
330 Bottles
No Chill Filtration
No Colouring
Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd, Glasgow

LAPHROAIG    48 %         INFO         
ISLAY 1815 MALT
SINGLE ISLAY MALT
QUARTER CASK
DOUBLE CASK MATURED
The Most richly flavoured
of all Scotch Whiskies
Non - Chill Filtered
D. Johnston & Co. (Laphroaig)
Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay

LAPHROAIG    13 years old 58,5%     INFO       
SINGLE CASK SCOTCH MALT WHISKY
Date distilled October 1991
Date bottled Nov 05
Society Cask No. code 29.47
Outturn 216 bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
Sooty and sweet

LAPHROAIG    18 years old 57,1%   INFO        
SINGLE CASK SCOTCH MALT WHISKY
Date distilled March 1988
Date bottled May 06
Society Cask No. code 29.51
Outturn 218 bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
Barbequed appels

LAPHROAIG    19 years old 52,2%        INFO    
SINGLE CASK SCOTCH MALT WHISKY
Date distilled March 1987
Date bottled May 06
Society Cask No. code 29.54
Outturn 261 bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
Tulips in a coal cellar

LAPHROAIG    8 years old 50 %       INFO   
THE OLD MALT CASK 50o
Single Malt - Single Cask -
Scotch Whisky
Single Cask Bottling
Distilled May 1998
A Bottling from one refill Hogshead
D L ref: 3044
Bottled October 2006
for
WHISKY FESTIVAL 2006 - LEIDEN
350 Bottles
No Chill Filtration
No Colouring
Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd, Glasgow

LAPHROAIG     1999  7 years old 46 %
Single Islay Malt
THE  ULTIMATE  SINGLE  MALT
SCOTCH  WHISKY  SELECTION
Distilled: 25/03/99
Matured in a refill butt
Cask no. 06/993/1
Bottled: 10/01/07
Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chillfiltering
The Ultimate Whisky Company, NL


LAPHROAIG      Aged 25 Years 40 %                               
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The Most Richly Flavoured of all
Scotch Whiskies
Part Matured in the Finest Oloroso
Sherry Casks
Distilled and Bottled in Scotland by
D. Johnston & Co, Laphroaig Distillery,
Isle of Islay

LAPHROAIG         6 years old   59,8 %                                          
2001
THE  ULTIMATE  SINGLE  MALT
SCOTCH  WHISKY  SELECTION
CASK  STRENGHT
Single Islay Malt
Distilled: 28/02/01
Matured in a refill butt
Cask no. 623
Bottled; 22/02/08
Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chillfiltered
The Ultimate Whisky Company, NL

LAPHROAIG     Aged in oak 18 years   53,7  %          INFO  
SINGLE  CASK  SCOTCH MALT
WHISKY
Date distilled March 1997
Date Bottled Apr 08
Society Cask no. 29.66
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults,
Leith, Edinburgh
"An enjoyable experience"

LAPHROAIG         55 %                       INFO                                 
CAIRDEAS
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The most richly flavoured of all Scotch whiskies
D. Johnston & Co, Laphroaig Distillery,
Isle of Islay       

LAPHROAIG      Aged in oak 16 years 56.0 %   INFO                   
SINGLE  MALT  SCOTCH  WHISKY
FROM  A  SINGLE  CASK
Society Cask No. 29.65
THE  ANNIVERSARY  25  YEARS
1983   -  2008
Date distilled Oct 92
Cask type Refill Butt
Date bottled Feb 08
Outturn 584 Bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
'Big, sweet and smoky'

LAPHROAIG     48 %                  INFO                                           
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
TRIPLE  WOOD
Non - Chill Filtered
The Most Richly Flavoured of all Scotch Whiskies
MATURED  IN  EX - BOURBON  BARRELS
AND  QUARTER  CASKS,
THEN  FINISHED  IN  EUROPEAN  OAK
Non Chill Filtered                                 
Distilled on the Remote Island of Islay
off the West Coast of Scotland
by D. Johnston & Co, Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay

LAPHROAIG      18 years old  48 %      INFO                
ISLAY  SINGLE  MALT
SCOTCH  WHISKY
THE  MOST  RICHLY
FLAVOURED   OF  ALL
SCOTCH  WHISKIES
Non Chill Filtered
Limited Edition
D. Johnston & Co,
Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay

LAPHROAIG 10 years old  58.3 %  INFO
CASK  STRENGHT
BATCH  0 0 2  JAN.  10
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The most richly flavoured of all Scotch Whiskies
D.Johnston & Co, Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay

LAPHROAIG 10 years old  57.8 %
CASK  STRENGHT
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
BATCH: 0 0 1 Feb.09 Bottled
The most richly flavoured of all
Scotch whiskies
Distilled on the remote island of Islay
Off the West coast of Scotland
Not Chill Filtered
Distilled and Bottled in Scotland by
D. Johnston & Co, Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay

LAPHROAIG Aged 25 years 50.9 %
CASK  STRENGHT
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Matured in Oloroso Sherry- and
American Oak casks
2 0 0 8 Edition
The most richly flavoured of all
Scotch whiskies
Distilled and Bottled in Scotland by
D. Johnston & Co, Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay

LAPHROAIG                  2 0 0 0                                       
10  years old 46 %
THE  ULTIMATE  SINGLE
MALT  SCOTCH  WHISKY
Distilled: 12/04/00
Matured in a Refill Butt
Cask no: 700053
Bottled 02/03/11
774 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chillfilterin
Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Company, NL

LAPHROAIG    61,2  %                                                        
OUR  FIFTH  BIRTHDAY

Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Distilled at the Laphroaig distillery                               
on the isle of Islay
Distilled in 1998
and  bottled in 2008
bottles availablefor the whole of mankind
2 6 0
Absolutely Absent from Any trade shelf
For its fifth birthday
A Special Bottling selected in 2008 by
…..le Forum
and  dedicated to every single one of it's
honourable members and friends
Ewald Lap / 2 April 2012
Distilled and matured in Scotland,
Bottled in France
Ecosse: Whisky et Distilleries
Jean Boyer sa 40230 Saint Geours de Maremme

LAPHROAIG  INFO
Aged  10 years  57.2 %                                     
SINGLE  MALT  SCOTCH  WHISKY
FROM  A  SINGLE  CASK
Date Distilled: 14th  February 2001
Cask Type: Refill Hogshead / ex Bourbon
Outturn / One of 266 Bottles
Society Single Cask No. 29.110
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
Wild West cowgirl dressed in leather


LAPHROAIG
1 9 9 8
14  years   46 %                                                                                                          
THE  ULTIMATE  SINGLE  MALT  SCOTCH  WHISKY
Islay Single Malt
Distilled:12/05/98
Matured in a Hogshead
Cask no: 5557
Bottled:22/02/13
372 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chillfiltered
Bottled in Scotland
Selected by the Ultimate Whisky Company, NL.
Amersfoort  

LAPHROAIG
1 9 9 8
13 years  60.1 %                                                                                                        
THE  ULTIMATE  SINGLE  MALT  SCOTCH  WHISKY
CASK  STRENGHT
Islay Single malt
Distilled: 22/09/98
Matured in a Refill Butt
Cask no: 700394
Bottled: 28/08/12
Natural Colour
Non Chillfiltered
Bottled in Scotland
Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Company, NL.
Amersfoort                                                                                                 
                                                               
LAPHROAIG     56.9 % INFO                       
Aged 20 years
SINGLE  MALT  SCOTCH
WHISKY  FROM  A SINGLE  CASK
Society Single Cask No. 29.124
Date Distilled: 14th October 1991
Cask Type: Refill Butt / ex  Sherry
Outturn one of only 549 Bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
Pregnancy Tea Mix
                                                                     
LAPHROAIG
VINTAGE  1 9 9 8
15  years old  46 %                                
THE  ULTIMATE  SINGLE  MALT
SCOTCH  WHISKY
Islay Single Malt
Distilled: 22/09/98
Matured in a Refill Sherry Butt
Cask no: 700354
Bottled: 05/11/13
780 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chillfiltration
Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Compant. NL

LAPHROAIG  INFO
Aged 21 years 56.6 %                      
SINGLE  MALT  SCOTCH WHISKY
FROM  A  SINGLE  CASK
Date distilled: 14th  October 1991
Cask type: Refill Butt ex sherry
Society Single Cask no: CODE 29.132
Outturn: One of only  543 bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
Hospitals and Japanese restaurants

LAPHROAIG INFO
Aged  18 years 60.2 %                       
SINGLE  MALT  SCOTCH  WHISKY
FROM AA  SINGLE  CASK
Date Distilled: 4th  April 1995
Cask Type: Refill Barrel / ex Bourbon
Society Single Cask No: Code 29.140
Outturn: Only One of 189 Bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
Juicy, salty and sooty

LAPHROAIG
VINTAGE  1 9 9 8
15  years old 46 %                             
THE  ULTIMATE  SINGLE  MALT
SCOTCH  WHISKY
Distilled: 22/09/98
Matured in a Refill Sherry Butt
Cask no: 700355
Bottled: 14/03/14
728 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Nonchillfiltered
Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Company.NL


LAPHROAIG
Established 1815
S E L E C T  40 %                                  
Hand Selected oak casks for
Perfect balance
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The most richly flavoured of all
Scotch Whiskies
Natural colour
This special Laphroaig is created from carefully selected casks
Of each of our key styles, stretching back in time - with one
Notable addition. The heart of the spirit is drawn from a final
Maturation in new American Oak casks, rarely used for Scotch
Whisky maturation.
Distilled and Bottled in Scotland by
D. Johnston & Co, Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay


LAPHROAIG INFO
Aged  14  years  61,7 %                       
SINGLE  MALT  SCOTCH  WHISKY
FROM  A  SINGLE  CASK
Date Distilled: 14th  April 2000
Cask Type: Refill  Butt / ex Sherry
Outturn: One of Only 584 Bottles
Society Single Cask: CODE: 2 9 . 1 5 8
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
The Smoking Gun

LAPHROAIG INFO
Aged  14  years  60.4 %                                
SINGLE  MALT  SCOTCH  WHISKY
FROM  A  SINGLE  CASK
Date distilled: 14th Apr 2000
Cask type: Refill Butt / ex Sherry
Society Single Cask:  Code 29.161
Outturn: One of Only 494 Bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
A bodega is burning

LAPHROAIG INFO
Aged 16 years 53 %                                                          
SINGLE  MALT  SCOTCH  WHISKY
FROM  A  SINGLE  CASK
Distilled: 1st July 1999
Cask Type: Refill Barrel / ex Bourbon
Outturn: One of Only 278 Bottles
Society Single Cask: CODE: 29.170
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
Early morning ward rounds

Islay
The Kildalton Distilleries
LAPHROAIG  (1826

Port Ellen, Islay, Argyll. Licentiehouder: D. Johnston & Co, (Laphroaig) Ltd. Eigendom van Caledonian Malt Whisky Distillers Ltd. Onderdeel van Allied Distillers Ltd. Eigendom van Allied Domecq.
Gesticht rond 1826 door Donald Johnston, zoon van John Johnston, de eigenaar van Lagavulin.
De distilleerderij werd gebouwd op grond van de Torredale boerderij, die het eigendom was van een neef, ook een Johnston.
Er naast was de Ardenistiel boerderij gelegen, het eigendom van Walter Frederick Campbell, en hier werd in 1835 de Ardenistiel, Islay en ook wel Kildalton distilleerderij gebouwd door James en Andrew Gairdner, die zij verhuurden aan James en Andrew Stein van de toen bekende Clackmannan distilleer dynastie.
In 1847 stierf Donald Johnston, twee dagen na te zijn gevallen in een vat met het overblijf-sel van de eerste distillatie, de zogenaamde 'burnt ale'.
Donald's oudste zoon Dugald was nog minderjarig en zijn vertrouwelingen Peter Maclntyre, pachter van Ballynaughtonmore boerderij en John Johnston pachter te Tallant, verzochten Walter Graham van Lagavulin, de dagelijkse leiding van Laphroaig op zich te nemen.
Zij zorgden er ook voor dat de pachtovereenkomst met de nieuwe landeigenaar, James Morrison, werd vernieuwd in Februari 1854.
Toen Dugald de leiding van Laphroaig overnam, op twintigjarige leeftijd, ontstond er gelijk een probleem over de waterrechten, Dugald verweet Walter Graham de waterrechten op de Sur-naig Burn niet te hebben geregeld.
De ruzie werd beslecht, maar Dugald verkocht geen Laphroaig meer aan de Islay Cellar te Glasgow, het eigendom van Walter Graham.
Dugald stierf in 1877.
Dugald's vertrouwelingen waren Alexander Johnston te Tallant, John Crawford Graham en Colin Hay van Ardbeg.
Alexander Johnston van Tallant bleef distillateur te Laphroaig.
Alexander Johnston verkreeg in 1904 een nieuwe huurovereenkomst voor vijftien jaar, na zijn zusters Margaret en Ann te hebben uitgekocht.
De huurovereenkomst hadden betrekking op de distilleerderij, waterrechten, turfgrond, Texa eiland, Torrodale Park en de gebouwen van de Ardenistiel distilleerderij.
Na de dood van Alexander's vrouw Isabella kwam zijn zuster Catharine bij hem en na zijn dood in 1907 nam zij de leiding van de distilleerderij over.
Aangezien Alexander Johnston drie wilsbeschikkingen had gemaakt, rees er een probleem, de uitkomst was dat Catharine, haar zuster Isabella en haar man William Stevenson Hunter werden de eigenaars van Laphroaig.

Hun zoon Ian William Hunter werd na de dood van zijn vader in 1919, Catharine in 1926 en zijn moeder in 1927 de figuur die de uitbreidingen en moderniseringen zou uitvoeren.
In 1924 was hij de eigenaar van het eiland Texa en het landgoed Ardenistiel en zou dit tot zijn dood in 1954 blijven
Laphroaig bleef tijdens de Amerikaanse drooglegging legaal exporteren als een medicinaal drankje, dankzij zijn uitgesproken smaak, de invoer in Noorwegen bleef ook voor Laphroaig verboden, ook daar heerste een drooglegging.
In 1923 werd Laphroaig uitgebreid met twee ketels en Ian William Hunter investeerde alles wat hij had in de distilleerderij, in het geloof dat het alleen maar beter kon wareend m,
In 1933 kwam een einde aan de drooglegging in de Verenigde Staten.
In die tijd kwam een jonge vrouw, Bessie Williamson bij hem werken als typiste en groeide uit tot zijn rechterhand.
Ian William Hunter verkreeg weer voet aan de grond in Scandinavië en maakte een promotie-toer door Amerika voor het uitbreken van de tweede wereldoorlog.
Op weg naar Amerika bezocht hij op Jamaica Thomas Sherriff, betrokken bij Bowmore tot 1922.
Thomas Sherriff had op Jamaica een suikerriet plantage en rumstokerij.
Ian William Hunter kreeg daar een beroerte en kon niet verder reizen, hij verzocht Bessie Williamson naar Jamaica te komen, wat gebeurde, instrueerde haar en zij maakte de promotie-reis naar Amerika.
Ian William Hunter voorzag de mogelijkheden voor de whiskyhandel om gedurende de oorlog dollars te verdienen, maar door zijn slechte gezondheid, hij bewoog zich voort in een rolstoel, was hij niet in staat om zelf veel te doen.
Hij vormde een vennootschap samen met zijn accountant en een rechtkundige, met Bessie Williamson als secretaresse, en zij was het die de leidende figuur werd.
Ian Hunter stierf te Laphroaig op 28 Augustus 1954 en Bessie Williamson was zijn enige erfgenaam.
In 1962 nam Long John Distillers, onderdeel van Seager, Evans & Co, een belang van 25 % in Laphroaig, gevolgd in 1972 door de aankoop van de overige aandelen.
Bessie Williamson, toen Mrs Wishart Campbell geheten, bleef directrice van Laphroaig.
In 1968 werden er twee ketels bijgebouwd.
Mrs Wishart Campbell bleef tot 1972 directrice.
Long John werd in 1975 overgenomen door de bierbrouwers Whitbread & Co Ltd.
In 1974 werden er twee ketels bijgebouwd.
In 1990 verkoopt Whisbread Laphroaig aan Allied - Lyons Pic.
De zeven met stoom gestookte ketels kunnen ruim 2 miljoen liter spirit per jaar produceren.

Een blend van Laphroaig is Islay Mist.
Iain Henderson was tot in 2002 de distilleerderij manager.
De Mash tun is 8,5 ton.
De zes Wash backs hebben elk een inhoud van 42.000 liter.
De drie Wash stills zijn elk 10.900 liter.
Drie Spirit stills zijn elk 3640 liter, één 7280 liter.
De ketels worden met stoom verhit.
De produktiecapaciteit is 1,9 miljoen liter spirit per jaar.
Opvolger van Ian Henderson is Robin Shields die komt van de Amerikaanse bierbrouwers Coors, die een deel van bierbrouwers Bass hebben gekocht.
September 2004
De 'Friends of Laphroaig' bestaan 10 jaar.
Master blender Robert Hicks en distilleerderij manager Robin Shields hebben een 11 jaar oude Limited Edition gecomponeerd. Er werden 750 flessen gebotteld, met de hand van een etiket voorzien en met de handtekening van Robin Shields.
LAPHROAIG Allied Distillers Februari 2003
Dumbarton Distillery sluit. Het komplex vaar ook het hoofdkantoor van Allied was gevestigd, hergde ook de Dumbarton Grain distilleerderij, en ook werden de malt whiskies Lomond, waarvan slechts één botteling bekend is, uitgebracht door de Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh onder code nummer 98.1, en Inverleven.
De capaciteit van de Grain distilleerderij Strathclyde wordt vergroot tot 39 miljoen liter spirit per jaar, dat was 32 miljoen liter.
Het hoofdkantoor wordt gevestigd te Kilmalid.
Het enorme gebouwencomplex is verkocht aan twee projectontwikkelaars.
September 2007
Laphroaig brengt twee nieuwe whiskies uit: Laphroaig 25 years old 40 %,  er zijn 60 flessen beschikbaar voor Nederland, prijs  € 349.00
Ook komt er een Vintage 1980 Laphroaig uit, gerijpt op Olorosso vaten, deze wordt niet in Nederland geïmporteerd, prijs € 6

Owner: Allied Domecq
Output: 2,0 million litres
Quantity sold as single malt whisky: 10 %
Barley spices: Chariot
Water source: Kilbride Dam
Wood: Fresh Bourbon only
Expressions: 10 years old at 40 %, cask Strenght at 57,3 %,
15 years old at 43 %, 30 years old at 43 %.
Drunk by:  H R H The Prince of Wales, John Simpson, BBC
foreign affairs correspondent, Michel Grade, who named his yacht after it.  

Laphroaig club: Friends of Laphroaig.
Distillery operating hours: 5 days a week, 24 hours a day
Number of emplyees: 24
Water source: Kilbride reservoir; fed from Loch na Beinne Brice
Water reserve: est. 5 million gallons
Water colour: brown
Peat content of water: sizeable trace
Malt source: approx. 75 per cent Port Ellen
 approx. 25 per cent own malt
Own floor maltings: yes
Malt type: Optic
Malt specification phenols:  Port Ellen malt; average 40 ppm;
 Laphroaig malt; average 43 ppm
Finished spirit phenols: 25 ppm
Malt storage: 284 tonnes
Mill type: Porteus
Grist storage:  25.5 tonnes
Mash tun construction: stainless steel, Lauter
Mash size: 8.5 tonnes
First water: 37.000 litres 67o C
Second water: 16.000 litres 85o C
Third water: 32.000 litres 85o C
Number of washbacks: 6
Washback construction: stainless steel
Washback charge: 42.000 litres
Yeast :  Mauri cultered yeasts
Amount of yeast:  125 kg per washback
Lenght of fermentation:  55 hours (shorts: week); 90 hours (longs:
  weekend)
Initial fermentation temperature: 18-19o C
Strenght of wash: 8.5 per cent abv
Number of wash stills:  3
Wash stills built :  2; not known; 1: 1972
Wash still capacity:  information not supplied
Wash still charge:  10.500 litres
Heat source:   steam pans
Wash still height: 19 feet 8 inches (6.02 m)
Wash still shape: plain
Lyne arm: ascends
Lenght of low-wines run: c. 6 hours
Low-wines collection range: 45 per cent abv - 1 per cent abv
Number of spirit stills: 4
Spirit still built : 1: not known; 2: 1972
Spirit still capacity: 3 smaller; information not supplied;
 1 larger: information not supplied
Spirit still charge: 3 smaller: 4.700 litres
1 larger: 9.400 litres
Strenght of spirit still charge: 26 per cent abv
Heat source:  steam coils
Spirit still height :3 smaller: 14 feet 5 inches (4.40 m)
1 larger: 17 feet 9 inches (5.41 m)   
Spirit still shape: lamp-glass
Lyne arm: ascends
Purifier: no
Condensers: all internally sited, and two-stage: condensers
 run warm, then condensing finished in a sub  cooler.

Each condenser is 10 feet (3.05 m) long, and  contains 280 copper tubes with an outside diameter of i inch (2.5 cm) and an internal diameter of  3/4 inch (18 mm)

Lenght of foreshot run: all stills: 45 minutes
Lenght of spirit run: 3 smaller: approx. 21/2  hours;
 1 larger: aaprox. 31/2 hours
Lenght of feints run:  all stills; approx. 2 hours
Spirit cut: 72 per cent abv - 60.5 per cent abv
Distilling strenght: 67.5 per cent abv average
Storage strenght:  63.5 per cent abv
Average spirit yield: 406 litres of pure alcohol per tonne of malt (2003)
Disposal of pot ale and spent lees: piped into Laphroaig Bay
Type casks filled for branded malt: 100 per cent first-fill bourbon (chiefly ex- Maker's
Mark, air-dried wood, barrels rather than  hogsheads  
Current annual output: 2.000.000 litres of pure alcohol
Number of warehouses:  6 (numbered 1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
Type of warehouses:  dunnage and racking
Storage capacity on Islay:  55.000 casks plus 11.000 at Ardbeg
Percentage of branded malt
entirely aged on Islay: 100 per cent
Vatting and bottling location:  Kilmalid, Dumbarton
Distillery expressions: 10- year old
10- year old cask strenght (57 per cent, un-chill-  filtered)  15- year old  30- year old special releases (e.g. 17- year old at 2004 Islay  Whisky Festival)
Major blending roles:   Ballantynes, Teachers, Long John, Islay Mist

THE OLD MALT CASK 50o
Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd
Douglas House 18, Lynedoch Crescent, Glasgow G 3 6 E Q.
In 1949 Fred Douglas Laing established Douglas Laing & Co primarily as a blender and bottler for his Scotch Whisky blends The King of Scots and House of Peers, which are available today internationally.
Large stocks and reserves of aging Malts in particular, were laid down by Mr. Laing, many being guarded for 25 - 30 years specifically for the older blends such as the 25 and 30 Year Old KING OF SCOTS.
With more than 50 different Malts in stock, over the last 50 years from filling programme, it was obvious that the Malt Master would have certain favourites. These have variously been chalked off the times of regular quality control, as being of particular qualitative interest; both commercially, and for the pleasure of the Directors. It has been their particular perk, benefit and privelege to nose and taste some of the finest quality samples indicative of the Distillers's art.
It was judged by the two current owners/directors (sons of the founder, so nepotism is not dead!) that some of these stocks were 'too good to blend'. And so the OLD MALT CASK selection was developed in 1999 to extend those perks and benefits beyond the Director's tasting suite!
Initially it was felt that 50 different Malts commemorating the Company's 50th Anniversary would be approciate. That tally has now been exeeded but our preferred strenght of 50 % alc/vol is maintained. We believe this strenght creates a fine, round, full quality for various Malts when taken 'neat'. It also allows the regular consumer to know precisely how much or little water should be added to this artisan and craftman's distillate.
These selected Malt Whiskies have waited many years to reach their classic heights of qua-lity. Not only with your health in mind, but with a view to greater enjoyment, may we suggest that in the style of the founder, whose signature endorses your Malt, you enjoy its glass leisurely and slowly.
Douglas Laing.

We, the Tasting Panel verify that the Scotch Malt Whisky inside this bottle has been
passed under some of the most scrupulous noses in the world and approved for re -
lease as a Society bottling.

Only single cask whiskies that promise to intrigue, entertain and delight our members
are selected, true to our motto: "To leave no nose upturned".

Output: 1,900.000 litres
Water: Kilbride Dam
Mash tun: 1 x 8,5 tonnes
Wasbacks: 6 x 42000 litres
3 wash stills x 10.900 litres
3 spirit stills x 3640 litres
1 spirit still x 7280 litres

Beam Suntory's iconic Islay single malt scotch whisky brand Laphroaig launched a 32-year-old expression last night.
The prestigious launch to invited guests at London's famous Connaught Hotel coincides with the distillery's 200th anniversary.
Distillery manager, John Campbell, the first native Islay man to make the famously peaty whisky, conducted a tasting by way of curtain-raiser for the £750 (circa US$1,400, €1,020), 46.6% abv cask strength expression.
He told the intimate audience that there are only 6,000 bottles available worldwide and all had been allocated. He opened by calling it a "big peaty slap in the face."
Owners Beam Suntory and distributors Maxxium claim Laphroaig is the number one best-selling Islay single malt scotch whisky in the world.
The 32-year-old expression, which was non chill filtered with no added colouring, was matured in first-fill ex-Oloroso casks. Campbell said most of the whiskies were 35 years old-plus.
Campbell went on the describe it as: "Red fruits, toffee, dates, meaty - bacon fat, fruity: apricots. Then licorice and a saltiness." He concluded by calling it "smacky and chewy, with sweet, smoky and salty flavours - not dry (he hates 'dry')."

Laphroaig comes from the Gaelic Lag Bhrodhaig = the hollow of broad bay.


Unusually for a distillery of this size Laphroaig has retained its own floor maltings which still account for 20% of its requirements. They have been retained specifically because it is believed that the Laphroaig kiln produces a more creosote-like phenolic character than the malt the distillery receives from the Port Ellen maltings. Certainly, a tarry iodine note is one of the signatures of the spirit.

The odd number of stills includes a spirit still which is double the size of its neighbours. As this produces a different character new make it is always blended in with those from the smaller ones.

A very long fore shot run means there are less estery notes in the new make, while a deeper cut means that heavier phenolics are captured compared to Ardbeg and Lagavulin. Its distinct sweet note therefore comes from the preferred cask type used – ex-Bourbon barrels. These, the distillery says, became the norm at Laphroaig post-Prohibition when Ian Hunter began travelling to the US. The effect of this type of oak is showcased in the Quarter Cask release where a vatting of younger Laphroaigs is finished in small casks. Some Sherry casks are in the inventory and are mostly used for longer-term maturation.

The reason so many existing Islay distilleries came into being before the ‘official’ 1824 start date is down to the influence of Islay’s laird, Walker Frederick Campbell. Islay was less brutally cleared than other islands and as an ‘improving’ landlord Campbell was keen to start new businesses on the island. Islay already had a reputation for moonshine, so legal distilling made sense. The fact that Campbell was also actively involved meant that it was harder to continue with illicit activities.

So, in 1815, brothers Alexander and Donald Johnston built a distillery at Laphroaig. Donald, who ran the distillery, tragically died in 1847 after falling into a vat of boiling pot ale. Laphroaig however remained in the control of D. Johnston & Co. until the 1960s.

Its rise to fame began at the start of the 20th century with the arrival of Donald's great-grandson, Ian Hunter. It was he who, in 1908, changed agent from Peter Mackie and prompted the building of Malt Mill. By the 1920s Laphroaig was being sold as a single malt and in 1924, the number of stills were increased to four. On his death in 1954 he left the distillery to his secretary Bessie Williamson who had been the de-facto manager during his extensive international sales trips.

American distiller, Schenley, bought into the distillery in the 1960s, buying it outright in 1967. By the time Bessie retired in 1972, the number of stills had been increased to seven. A period of passing through various hands and amalgamations ended when Jim Beam purchased it from Allied Distillers in 2005. In the intervening period Prince Charles had awarded his favourite single malt his own Royal Warrant. In the same year, 1994, the Friends of Laphroaig was launched, the first of the modern ‘member’s associations’ phenomenon – there are currently 638,000 members. In a creative piece of marketing – initiated by legendary manager Iain Henderson – Friends were given a square foot of Islay which they leased back to the distillery in exchange for a year’s ‘rent’ of a miniature of Laphroaig which could only be claimed by visiting the distillery.

Beam’s takeover by Suntory in 2014 has resulted in the Japanese-American giant now owning two of Islay’s eight distilleries.

1815
Alexander and Donald Johnston build Laphroaig on Islay
1836
Donald buys out Alexander and assumes control
1837
James and Andrew Gardner found Ardenistiel distillery near Laphroaig
1847
Donald Johnston is killed in an accident at Laphroaig; Walter Graham, manager at nearby Lagavulin, steps in to run the distillery
1857
Donald Johnston's son, Dugald, takes over operation of Laphroaig
1860s
Ardenistiel distillery merges with Laphroaig
1877
After his death Dugald's sister, Isabella, takes over operation of Laphroaig with her husband Alexander Johnston
1924
Laphroaig's two stills are increased to four
1927
Ian Hunter, Alexander Johnston's nephew, assumes control of Laphroaig
1928
Isabella Johnston dies and Hunter becomes sole owner
1954
Hunter passes away and the distillery is run by his former PA and secretary, Elisabeth 'Bessie' Williamson
1967
Seager Evans & Company, owned by Schenley, buys Laphroaig and increases the stills to five
1972
Williamson retires and the number of stills are increased again to seven
1975
English brewer Whitbread buys Seager Evans
1989
Whitbread's spirits division is sold to Allied Distillers
1994
HRH Prince Charles grants his Royal Warrant to Laphroaig; Friends of Laphroaig is founded
2004
Laphroaig Quarter Cask is released
2005
Laphroaig moves under the ownership of Fortune Brands (Jim Beam)
2008
Laphroaig Cairdeas is introduced, as is Triple Wood
2013
Laphroaig QA Cask, An Cuan Mor and 25 Year Old are released
2014
Owner Beam Global is bought out by Japanese group Suntory

CAPACITY (MLPA) i
3.4
CONDENSER TYPE i
Vertical multipass copper tubed condensers
FERMENTATION TIME i
Minimum 55hrs
FILLING STRENGTH i
63.5%
GRIST WEIGHT (T) i
5.5
HEAT SOURCE i
Oil-fired boiler
MALT SPECIFICATION i
Phenols minimum 35ppm
MALT SUPPLIER i
Laphroaig Distillery/Diageo Port Ellen/Crisp Port Gordon & Alloa
MASH TUN TYPE i
Lauter
NEW-MAKE PHENOL LEVEL i
18ppm
NEW-MAKE STRENGTH i
68.5%
SINGLE MALT PERCENTAGE i
60%
SPIRIT STILL CHARGE (L) i
4,900
SPIRIT STILL SHAPE i
Onion
SPIRIT STILL SIZE (L) i
4,900
STILLS i
7
WAREHOUSING i
On Islay for single malt
WASH STILL CHARGE (L) i
10,500
WASH STILL SHAPE i
Onion
WASHBACK CHARGE (L) i
10,500
WASHBACK SIZE (L) i
52,000
WASHBACK TYPE i
Stainless steel
WATER SOURCE i
The Kilbride reservoir
WORT CLARITY i
Clear
YEAST TYPE i
Mauri liquide yeast
OWNERS

Beam Suntory
2014 - present
CURRENT OWNER

D Johnston & Company
PREVIOUS OWNERS

Beam
2006 - 2014
Allied Domecq
1994 - 2006
Allied Lyons
1989 - 1994
Whitbread & Co
1975 - 1989
Schenley Industries
1962 - 1975
Bessie Williamson
1954 - 1962
The Johnston Family
1815 - 1954

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HOME >   MAGAZINE >   PEOPLE >   WHISKY HEROES >   BESSIE WILLIAMSON, LAPHROAIG
WHISKY HEROES
BESSIE WILLIAMSON, LAPHROAIG
24 May 2016 by Iain Russell
Bessie Williamson, whose name will always be indelibly linked to Laphroaig, was, in the words of one news report, a ‘woman of spirit’ – the only female to own and run a Scottish distillery in the 20th century. Iain Russell tells her story.

Bessie Williamson
Adopted home: Bessie wasn't from Islay, but was well-loved by the local community
Bessie Williamson (1910-82) wasn’t from Islay. She had no family connections with the whisky business. And she lived in an era when women were rarely employed in Scotland’s distilleries, other than as office clerks, secretaries or cleaners.

Yet Bessie is a legendary figure in the history of Islay’s whisky industry. She became managing director of the Laphroaig distillery on Islay and was the only woman to own and manage a distillery in Scotland in the 20th century. How did that happen?

Elizabeth Leitch Williamson was born in Glasgow’s High Street, the daughter of an office clerk who was killed fighting with the British Army in France in 1918. His widow was left to raise Bessie, her sister and brother alone.

Bessie matriculated at the University of Glasgow in 1927. She studied for a general Arts degree, but she had to re-sit several exams and it took her five years to complete the three-year course.

Her uncle found her a job working for a restaurant company so that she could earn some money to help pay her way through teacher training college, and Bessie attended night classes to learn useful secretarial and clerical skills.

With her best friend Margaret Prentice, Bessie went to Islay on holiday in the summer of 1934. She learned of a temporary vacancy for a shorthand typist at the Laphroaig distillery and her application was successful. She never went back to teaching.

Laphroaig belonged to D Johnston & Co, a company owned since 1927 by Ian Hunter (1886-1954). Hunter had a reputation for irascibility, but he seems to have taken a shine to Bessie. He asked her to manage the office at Laphroaig and she became his most trusted lieutenant.

D Johnston & Co stencil for casks

Making her mark: Bessie became a trusted employee at D Johnston & Co

Iain Maclean, who worked at the distillery, told journalist Andrew Jefford:
‘She was nice, a very attractive girl… she was very clever, an educated woman.’  

After Hunter suffered a stroke in 1938 and was confined to a wheelchair, Bessie took a greater share in the management of the business. In 1944, when the distillery was about to restart production after being used as a barracks and ammunition store during the Second World War, he transferred control to her. D Johnston & Co became a limited company in 1950, and Bessie was appointed company secretary with a small shareholding.

Hunter died in 1954; he left money to long-serving employees in his will, as well as £5,000, the distillery business, Ardenistiel House and the island of Texa to Bessie. She continued to entrust much of the day-to-day management of whisky production to Tom Anderson, the long-serving brewer, but kept charge of the company’s business affairs.

Iain Maclean approved of her management style:

‘She was a good boss. She just let the workers carry on with their work; it was the proper thing to do. Everybody knew his job anyway… She never had any bother.’

Laphroaig certainly flourished under her leadership. Like the other Islay distilleries, it focused on producing single malt for the large blending houses on the mainland, and she told a visiting documentary crew in the early 1960s that ‘we can’t supply the demand that we have for our whisky’.

Laphroaig still house, 1960s

Old times: Laphroaig's still house before reconstruction – work that was overseen by Bessie

Bessie’s sound business sense, allied no doubt to the curiosity value of being a woman in a very male business, certainly impressed the officials of the Scotch Whisky Association. The SWA invited her to tour North America in the 1960s, lecturing on Scotch whisky production. It was during one of these tours that she met the Canadian radio star Wishart Campbell.

Campbell (c1905-83) was the grandson of an Islay minister who had emigrated to Canada in the 19th century. The journalist John McPhee described him as ‘somewhat heavyset, but nonetheless athletic in carriage, a glib man, quick, fluid, idiomatic’. He was an accomplished pianist and baritone, and was known as ‘The Golden Voice of the Air’. There was a whirlwind romance and he and Bessie married in Glasgow in 1961.

Bessie was widely respected on Islay for her contribution to the island’s social as well as its business life. She played a prominent role in the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute, organising concerts, fêtes and tea parties to raise money for worthy local causes: the Kildalton branch, which she chaired, met in the community hall at the distillery. In 1963, she was awarded the Order of St John for her charity work.

In contrast, Wishart was unpopular with many islanders, who suspected him of being a gold-digger. They say he arrived on Islay with his new bride bringing nothing more than a suitcase and a white grand piano.

But he and Bessie (whom he referred to as ‘Mrs C’) seem to have been a happy couple. They lived at Ardenistiel and Wishart started a small market-gardening business, selling his fruit, vegetables and flowers to local businesses.

He was willing to play his part in promoting the whisky to visiting journalists – he suggested Laphroaig was the liquid equivalent of George Gershwin’s Love Walked In with the bass turned up to the max – but continued to favour rum and Pepsi as his tipple of choice.

A Woman of Spirit: Bessie features in this classic Movietone News clip from 1964

Laphroaig may have been one of Islay’s most in-demand whiskies, but Bessie realised it required substantial investment to modernise production facilities and increase warehousing capacity. She approached local landowners the McTaggart family with an offer to sell them the distillery for just £80,000: the McTaggarts owned one of Scotland’s leading construction companies and had the deep pockets required for long-term investment projects.

When the family declined her offer, she came to an agreement instead with the American-owned Long John Distillers. They acquired the share capital in the distillery company from Bessie in three instalments, in 1962, 1967 and 1972.

Bessie remaining as chairman and managing director of D Johnston & Co Ltd, with a seat on parent company Long John’s board, until she retired in 1972. She was at the helm when the new still house was built in 1967, with steam heating in place of direct coal fires for the stills, and other construction and modernisation programmes begun. However, her last years at the distillery were inevitably uncomfortable, as the mainland company strove to modernise working practices at the distillery.

According to John McDougall, who worked briefly with Bessie when he became manager in 1970, Laphroaig had become known locally as the ‘Islay Labour Exchange’ because Bessie ‘could not listen to a hard luck story without giving in and providing a job for the person concerned, even though there was usually no job at all’.

Bessie herself informed her fellow board members at Long John that she had kept on many of the older employees because ‘we have no pension scheme’. Inevitably, there were redundancies among the workforce after Bessie handed over full control to Long John, but her achievement in guiding the distillery through difficult times and maintaining the high reputation of the whisky, while creating employment for so many local men, was greatly appreciated locally.

And what of her legacy? An AP news presenter sums it up nicely (if perhaps unintentionally!) in a 1964 report:

‘You’d expect [whisky] production to be an entirely male preserve. Mrs Campbell proves you wrong.’

Her greatest achievement was to win widespread recognition for her success in business, in what was one of Britain’s most traditional and male-dominated industries, and to prove, once and for all, that it was wrong to suggest that whisky making was just ‘man’s work’.


BESSIE WILLIAMSON, LAPHROAIG

Bessie Williamson, whose name will always be indelibly linked to Laphroaig, was, in the words of one news report, a ‘woman of spirit’ – the only female to own and run a Scottish distillery in the 20th century.

Bessie Williamson
Adopted home: Bessie wasn't from Islay, but was well-loved by the local community
Bessie Williamson (1910-82) wasn’t from Islay. She had no family connections with the whisky business. And she lived in an era when women were rarely employed in Scotland’s distilleries, other than as office clerks, secretaries or cleaners.

Yet Bessie is a legendary figure in the history of Islay’s whisky industry. She became managing director of the Laphroaig distillery on Islay and was the only woman to own and manage a distillery in Scotland in the 20th century. How did that happen?

Elizabeth Leitch Williamson was born in Glasgow’s High Street, the daughter of an office clerk who was killed fighting with the British Army in France in 1918. His widow was left to raise Bessie, her sister and brother alone.

Bessie matriculated at the University of Glasgow in 1927. She studied for a general Arts degree, but she had to re-sit several exams and it took her five years to complete the three-year course.

Her uncle found her a job working for a restaurant company so that she could earn some money to help pay her way through teacher training college, and Bessie attended night classes to learn useful secretarial and clerical skills.

With her best friend Margaret Prentice, Bessie went to Islay on holiday in the summer of 1934. She learned of a temporary vacancy for a shorthand typist at the Laphroaig distillery and her application was successful. She never went back to teaching.

Laphroaig belonged to D Johnston & Co, a company owned since 1927 by Ian Hunter (1886-1954). Hunter had a reputation for irascibility, but he seems to have taken a shine to Bessie. He asked her to manage the office at Laphroaig and she became his most trusted lieutenant.

D Johnston & Co stencil for casks

Making her mark: Bessie became a trusted employee at D Johnston & Co

Iain Maclean, who worked at the distillery, told journalist Andrew Jefford:
‘She was nice, a very attractive girl… she was very clever, an educated woman.’  

After Hunter suffered a stroke in 1938 and was confined to a wheelchair, Bessie took a greater share in the management of the business. In 1944, when the distillery was about to restart production after being used as a barracks and ammunition store during the Second World War, he transferred control to her. D Johnston & Co became a limited company in 1950, and Bessie was appointed company secretary with a small shareholding.

Hunter died in 1954; he left money to long-serving employees in his will, as well as £5,000, the distillery business, Ardenistiel House and the island of Texa to Bessie. She continued to entrust much of the day-to-day management of whisky production to Tom Anderson, the long-serving brewer, but kept charge of the company’s business affairs.

Iain Maclean approved of her management style:

‘She was a good boss. She just let the workers carry on with their work; it was the proper thing to do. Everybody knew his job anyway… She never had any bother.’

Laphroaig certainly flourished under her leadership. Like the other Islay distilleries, it focused on producing single malt for the large blending houses on the mainland, and she told a visiting documentary crew in the early 1960s that ‘we can’t supply the demand that we have for our whisky’.

Laphroaig still house, 1960s

Old times: Laphroaig's still house before reconstruction – work that was overseen by Bessie

Bessie’s sound business sense, allied no doubt to the curiosity value of being a woman in a very male business, certainly impressed the officials of the Scotch Whisky Association. The SWA invited her to tour North America in the 1960s, lecturing on Scotch whisky production. It was during one of these tours that she met the Canadian radio star Wishart Campbell.

Campbell (c1905-83) was the grandson of an Islay minister who had emigrated to Canada in the 19th century. The journalist John McPhee described him as ‘somewhat heavyset, but nonetheless athletic in carriage, a glib man, quick, fluid, idiomatic’. He was an accomplished pianist and baritone, and was known as ‘The Golden Voice of the Air’. There was a whirlwind romance and he and Bessie married in Glasgow in 1961.

Bessie was widely respected on Islay for her contribution to the island’s social as well as its business life. She played a prominent role in the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute, organising concerts, fêtes and tea parties to raise money for worthy local causes: the Kildalton branch, which she chaired, met in the community hall at the distillery. In 1963, she was awarded the Order of St John for her charity work.

In contrast, Wishart was unpopular with many islanders, who suspected him of being a gold-digger. They say he arrived on Islay with his new bride bringing nothing more than a suitcase and a white grand piano.

But he and Bessie (whom he referred to as ‘Mrs C’) seem to have been a happy couple. They lived at Ardenistiel and Wishart started a small market-gardening business, selling his fruit, vegetables and flowers to local businesses.

He was willing to play his part in promoting the whisky to visiting journalists – he suggested Laphroaig was the liquid equivalent of George Gershwin’s Love Walked In with the bass turned up to the max – but continued to favour rum and Pepsi as his tipple of choice.

A Woman of Spirit: Bessie features in this classic Movietone News clip from 1964

Laphroaig may have been one of Islay’s most in-demand whiskies, but Bessie realised it required substantial investment to modernise production facilities and increase warehousing capacity. She approached local landowners the McTaggart family with an offer to sell them the distillery for just £80,000: the McTaggarts owned one of Scotland’s leading construction companies and had the deep pockets required for long-term investment projects.

When the family declined her offer, she came to an agreement instead with the American-owned Long John Distillers. They acquired the share capital in the distillery company from Bessie in three instalments, in 1962, 1967 and 1972.

Bessie remaining as chairman and managing director of D Johnston & Co Ltd, with a seat on parent company Long John’s board, until she retired in 1972. She was at the helm when the new still house was built in 1967, with steam heating in place of direct coal fires for the stills, and other construction and modernisation programmes begun. However, her last years at the distillery were inevitably uncomfortable, as the mainland company strove to modernise working practices at the distillery.

According to John McDougall, who worked briefly with Bessie when he became manager in 1970, Laphroaig had become known locally as the ‘Islay Labour Exchange’ because Bessie ‘could not listen to a hard luck story without giving in and providing a job for the person concerned, even though there was usually no job at all’.

Bessie herself informed her fellow board members at Long John that she had kept on many of the older employees because ‘we have no pension scheme’. Inevitably, there were redundancies among the workforce after Bessie handed over full control to Long John, but her achievement in guiding the distillery through difficult times and maintaining the high reputation of the whisky, while creating employment for so many local men, was greatly appreciated locally.

And what of her legacy? An AP news presenter sums it up nicely (if perhaps unintentionally!) in a 1964 report:

‘You’d expect [whisky] production to be an entirely male preserve. Mrs Campbell proves you wrong.’

Her greatest achievement was to win widespread recognition for her success in business, in what was one of Britain’s most traditional and male-dominated industries, and to prove, once and for all, that it was wrong to suggest that whisky making was just ‘man’s work’.
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