Laphroaig is a brand of Islay Scotch produced by the Laphroaig distillery on the island of Islay. Today, Laphroaig is owned by Allied Domeq, but the history of the distillery dates back to 1815, when the Johnston brothers bought 1,000 acres of land on the southern edge of the island to raise cattle. In order to raise cattle, they grew barley, and they quickly realized that this could be distilled into scotch.
In 1836, Donald Johnston bought out his brother to become the sole owner of Laphroaig, and when he died in 1847 (due to falling into a vat of partially made whisky), the distillery was leased temporarily to the Graham family, owners of Lagavulin. Donald's son Dugald took over ownership in 1857 until his death in 1877, when Laphroaig was passed on to his sisters and brother in law, Alexander.
After some protracted legal battles with the agents for Lagavulin (who were entitled to half of Laphroaig's production and blending it into grain whiskeys), Alexander's sisters and his nephew William became owners. By 1923, William's son Ian had secured the rights to the property, and set about doubling the production. His choice for wood was first fill American bourbon casks, which softened the peaty scotch, but not as much as the more popular sherry barrels.
When Ian died in 1954, he left the entire distillery to Bessie Williamson, who began work at Laphroaig in 1935 as a temporary hired in the front office for the summer. Over her long tenure at the distillery, Ian confided the closely held secrets of production, and upon his death, she ran the distillery until it was sold in 1990.
In 1994, Prince Charles visited Laphroaig and granted them his Royal Warrant. It is said that the 15 year old Laphroaig is his drink of choice.
Laphroaig makes over a dozen standard bottlings that range in age from 10 to 40 years. They also produce special bottlings for the many Scotch whisky societies. As a rule, Laphroaig whiskys are pale in color, and while they lack the midrange and finish punch that Lagavulin achieves, they have the most wonderful phenolic/peaty aroma and sharpness that is barely rounded over by the bourbon casks they age in.