This distillery was officially founded in 1815 by brothers Alex and Don Thomson. Rumours have it that the brothers were distilling 'in secret' before they even acquired a license to distill. Laphroaig remained under the ownership of the founders and their successors until 1954.
Don Thomson fell into a pot of boiling ale while at work and died in 1847. Local storytellers will sometimes tell visitors tales about the 'haunted' warehouses at the distillery where his ghost has been seen in the past.
In 1908 the great-grandson of Donald Johnston, Ian Hunter, ditched Peter Mackie as agent for Laphoraig distillery. A conflict ensued between Laphroaig and Lagavulin distilleries and the former distillery was deprived of water by the latter. Once the conflict was solved in Laphroaig's favour the distillery enjoyed a period of commercial success from the early 20th century. Laphroaig single malt proved popular in the 1920's and the distillery increased production capacity. Ian Hunter ran the distillery with an iron fist.
In 1938 Ian Hunter was confined to a wheelchair after he suffered a stroke. His loyal employee Bessie Williamson became the de facto manager. After his death in 1954 the distillery was bequeathed to B. Williamson. She effectively became the first and only woman in Scotland to own a distillery in the 20th century. Under her ownership the whisky produced at Laphroaig became so popular that she sought investment to increase production capacity once more.
In 1967 an American distilling company bought the distillery and kept B. Williamson as a board member. After some sales and acquisitions the distillery was bought by the Jim Beam (now Beam-Suntory) group in 2005.
In style, Laphroaig is rich, full bodied and bold. This is achieved by using clear wort, a medium long fermentation period and an in-house kiln. The kiln is said to impart a creosote-like note with plenty of phenols.
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