Laphroaig is probably Scotland's most distinctive whisky, and if you only ever visit one of Scotland's scores of distilleries, this should be your choice. A bold claim... so why do we think Laphraoig (pronounced La-Froyg) tops the pile? Firstly, few other distilleries can offer such a complete tour of the production process. Laphroig still malts its own barley, meaning you can still see the extensive malting floors in use, feel the dry heat of the kiln, and smell the acrid peat smoke rising from the furnace below. You can count the other Scottish distilleries that still do this on one hand. The rest of our (standard) tour was rich in detail, generous at the tasting stage and included a visit to the atmospheric warehouses. Booking is crucial at peak times: the distillery's worldwide fame and easy access from Port Ellen makes tours extremely popular. There's also an excellent exhibition area, and the coastal setting is superb. Become a "Friend of Laphraoig" and you're even given a square-foot plot of land adjacent to the distillery alongside its water source: wellies available in the visitor centre if you want to brave the bog to place a flag. Oh, and the whisky? Laphraoig prides itself on its extremely heavily peated, medicinal, "punch-in-the-face" taste. It's certainly not to everyone's taste, but you have to try it. Check out the "opinions" page on the distillery website for an idea of what's in store. "Like French kissing a Highland cow on its dirty nose"...
|[Floor maltings, empty for cleaning during our tour]|
Name: Laphroaig Distillery ★★★★★
Location: A846 a mile east of Port Ellen, G.R.: NR 388452 / gasping strike loafing
Open (2017): Daily, March to December; weekdays, January to February
Cost (2017): £6+ depending on tour type
Anything else? Booking strongly recommended.