A decent visit to Islay naturally includes a visit to one of the eight whiskey distilleries. Jens and I decided to visit the Laphroaig Distillery because Jens has not yet seen them from the inside. For me it was the third visit to the “Prince Charles Distillery”. They proudly put the coat of arms of the Princes of Wales on the wall, it also decorates every bottle of whiskey.
When the weather was fine, we walked the almost one and a half miles from Port Ellen via the Three Distilleries Path to Laphi. We were lucky there because we didn't have to wait long for the next tour. I could also call it bad luck because we hardly had time to drink the welcome whiskey and would certainly have gotten another one.
Laphroaig and Bowmore are the only two stills that make part of their malt themselves (up to 20%), the rest is bought in Port Ellen. The other distilleries also buy their grain there. It is produced according to the respective specifications of the stills, which includes, for example, that it is roasted with more or less peat.
A nice part of the tour took place on the back of the still. Here you can see running, warm process water, which creates a great fog in the bay. The guide said that the bay is very rich in fish and I believe her word for it, because I could see a heron hunting prey.
Then it went back in, although we would have liked to stay in the sun for a few minutes. Maybe we could have photographed the heron on departure or with a fish. So it stayed with this beautiful picture.
I have not taken any photos of the stainless steel mash containers in which a kind of beer is brewed. We were allowed to taste it, it tasted slightly sour and powerful like peat. Clearly, a peated whiskey is distilled here. I was also not allowed to take photos of our guide. Not everyone adhered to it, but I did - that requires courtesy.
After brewing the beer (with approx. 8% alcohol), it moves into the first still, the so-called wash still. The beer is distilled and the alcohol content is about 25%. This is more or less the same value in every still, the physical properties of the beer are roughly the same. One or two percent alcohol is not important.
This is followed by a second row of stills, in which the new spirit is then burned - it comes out with about 70% alcohol and then flows into large tanks before it is filled into various barrels for storage. If you want to know more about the process, you will certainly find it on Wikipedia.
The whiskey is freshly distilled and colorless. Incidentally, it is a rarity to be allowed to photograph this process. Most distilleries make a giant boo out of it and prohibit photography on the grounds that there is a risk of explosion. I don't have the final impression that Laphroaig is different from the other distilleries in terms of the risk of explosion, the distinguishing feature is the ease. You can really take pictures of everything there. In this respect, this tour was also a win for me, because I knew this beforehand and took the camera with me. I didn't have her with me on the previous visit because I didn't expect to be able to photograph the interesting things. Thank Laphi
Once filled into used barrels, the good material has been stored for several years before being bottled. The Scots are clever. You buy a lot of used bourbon barrels from the Americans, because the bourbon whiskey must always be filled into brand new barrels. There are also wine barrels (cherry and others). In it, the whiskey takes on part of the taste of bourbon, cherry and the other drinks previously stored in these barrels over the years. The smell in this warehouse is indescribable. It just smells very good of whiskey.
In Scotland the angels are always drunk. Due to the different temperatures in summer and winter, the liquid in the barrels expands and contracts again, and the wooden barrels are a bit leaky anyway, liquid evaporates. The Scots call it the Angels Share.
After the tour there was a tasting of different varieties as always. It was fun and we found out from the guide that there is a brewery on Islay, which we visited the next day.