in a small bay near the south coast of Islay, Lagavulin
was established in a vibrant distillery area in the
1740’s. The site was chosen partly because the location
lent itself well to smuggling. Lagavulin is Gaelic for
“the hollow where the mill is”, a fitting name for the
town Lagavulin in which two ancient millstones have
survived to this day.
In 1816 John Johnston established the first of two
distilleries at Lagavulin. The distillery changed hands
in 1867 when the ownership passed to the blending
company Mackie & Company Distillers Limited. The
well-known blended whisky White Horse with a Lagavulin
whisky base was created 1890.
Lagavulin lies on the southeastern coast of Islay and
neighbours the Laphroaig and Ardbeg distilleries. Islay
sports a small airport, but the easiest way to visit
Lagavulin is by ferry to Islay. Once there, most Islay
distilleries are within reach.
their water from the Solum Lochs. In the early history
of the distillery the village and the distillery argued
over the rights to the water source, but the dispute is
long since resolved. Since 1974 Port Ellen Maltings
provides the malt. It is smoked to 35ppm, which is
rather peaty but not as smoky as the malt at Ardbeg
which is smoked to 50 ppm. The mash tun holds 4.5 tons
and is made from stainless steel. The ten washbacks are
made from Larch wood and are more than 50 years old. The
distillery uses two pairs of onion-shaped stills. All
stills are steam heated.
The whisky is primarily stored in first fill bourbon
casks, but the Double Matures series is also stored in
used sherry butts.
Isle of Islay PA42 7DZ
Phone: +44 (0) 1496
Manager: Donald Renwick
Visitors: Visitors are welcomed after advance
booking. The guided tour is priced at £4, which is
refundable on purchase. No food, but Ardbeg cafeteria is
only a few hundred meters away.
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