Situated 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.
Production at Lagavulin
Lagavulin draw 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 302400
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.