Whisky Magazine Issue 128
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Laphroaig ‘medicinal malts' or ‘damp dog and tree bark' – opinions vary
Laphroaig is arguably the world's ultimate ‘Marmite' whisky, dividing opinion between those who just don't get its intense, phenolic, maritime character and those who are fiercely loyal to the Islay single malt. Clearly, Laphroaig is doing something right, as it is the world's best-selling Islay brand, and in 2013 the ninth-best-selling single malt in the global top ten.
The brand has many ‘friends,' too, in fact 669,000 from more than 190 countries at the last count. 21 years ago the marketing team behind Laphroaig came up with the notion of creating the ‘Friends of Laphroaig' organisation, with each registered ‘Friend' receiving preferential purchasing terms on bottles of whisky, and sometimes exclusive new expressions not on general release. They are also granted a lifetime's lease on a square foot of land at the distillery and the annual ‘rent' takes the form of a dram of Laphroaig.
High profile aficionados of the distinctive Laphroaig style include HRH The Prince of Wales, who bestowed his Royal Warrant on the distillery in 1994, and this year there are particular causes for celebration down on the southern shores of Islay, as Laphroaig marks its bi-centenary, having first been licensed in 1815 by brothers Donald and Alexander Johnston.
When the Allied empire was split up in 2005, Laphroaig, along with Ardmore distillery in Aberdeenshire and Teacher's blended Scotch whisky, was purchased by Fortune Brands and the most recent change in ownership came in 2...