Saturday, 14 April 2012

Lagavulin Distillery (2012 visit)

Lagavulin Distillery
Port Ellen
Isle of Islay
PA42 7DZ

On our visit to Islay in the spring of 2012, at the end of the last day there, we were trying to squeeze in a quick visit to the Lagavulin Distillery. Filled a bit with regret that we chose to go here for such a short time on this beautiful island. Too short to visit it all...

This distillery is situated beautifully and lies next to Laphroaig distillery. Unfortunately we could not take a tour there because we were there just before closing. The lady in the shop was very kind to us, and even being close to closing, she gave us the time to browse around, and taste a dram in the lovely tasting room. We ended up buying the distillers edition who we tasted there, for a friend of us.

Something to go back for surely. Because it was the end of the day we were losing daylight and the distillery was closing. So not a good moment for photography we decided then and did not go walking around...

After leaving Islay we heard that we missed a very lovely tour there, and that the surroundings are beautiful... A shame, time to go back, and have a proper look around. All ready looking forward to it!

At home I did some research online what I could learn more about this location. I found out that although the records date back to 1742, that there was distilling at that site, the distillery was founded in 1816. But that was the Kildalton distillery, and in 1817 the Lagavulin distillery was founded. I understand that they were at the same location, and in 1837 they merged and the name Lagavulin stayed.

Interesting to read that on that small piece of land there was a conflict between many distillers, and that from the 1920's until the mid 1950's the supply's were brought in by boat to the distillery, and the filled barrels brought back that way to Glasgow.

In the end this distillery is now owned by Diageo. But it has had some changes. The distillery Laphroaig next door for example. In the battle between Lagavulin and Laphroaig the Malt Mill distillery was founded between the walls of Lagavulin. How did that happen...?

Peter Mackie, in 1908, was trying to push Laphroaig out of the market. He made a plan to copy the stills from them exactly, and build them in the walls of his distillery Lagavulin, and so produce his own Laphroaig. He called this the Malt Mill.

Malt Mill was in production until 1960, and did not push Laphroaig out of the market, and the two distillery's still stand next to each other.

In 1962 the Lagavalin distillery was rebuild and all the Malt Mill equipment removed, and they merged the buildings together. So when there you walk in a "two in one" distillery. If I understand correctly they used the Malt Mill stills after the rebuild, so they were not broken down.

Until 1974 there were maltings done with their own peat on site, but now they use the Port Ellen Maltings, like so many other distilleries from Islay. We have not seen them yet, but they should have pear shaped stills, 2 wash, and 2 spirit.

In 1996 they got an new stainless steel mashtun, in 2008 a part of the spirit stills was replaced, and in 2009 the wash stills turn to be replaced was there. The visitor centre is now placed in the buildings of the maltings. They have a 24/7 production, with 2,4 milj. liters per year, all operated by computers...

Reading more and more about this place wants me to visit it again, and do it justice this time, and do a proper tour and look around... Not something to be done in a rush...

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