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Q & A

John Campbell explains the story behind Laphroaig Lore
By Gavin D. Smith
Why is it called Laphroaig Lore?

To answer this, we would look no further than the dictionary definition of Lore. 'A body of traditions passed down through generations usually by word of mouth.' We've been making whisky at Laphroaig for the last 200 years and our expertise and knowledge is handed down through generations from distillery manager to distillery manager, so for us the name Lore is a nod to the generations of expertise and knowledge that have been used to create this new expression.

What is different about the way you created it compared to previous Laphroaigs?

Over the past ten years, the main new expressions have taken Laphroaig filled into ex-Bourbon barrels and then given the whisky a second or third maturation. Prior to Beam purchasing Laphroaig distillery, all 'new make' Laphroaig was filled into ex-Bourbon barrels.

After the purchase of the distillery, new make Laphroaig was also filled into first and second fill Oloroso

sherry hogsheads, first and second fill quarter casks and once used ex-Laphroaig barrels. The marriage of these different cask types with some double matured (Bourbon and virgin European oak barrels) makes Lore unique to Laphroaig.

Approximately what spread of ages does it comprise of, and which cask types predominate?

The age range for Lore is between seven and 21 years old. The Laphroaig distillery owner hadn't filled anything other than ex-Bourbon barrels since the 90s so this gave us an opportunity in looking to our forebears for inspiration in maturation techniques and ideas.

It's described as 'The richest of the rich'. Why is that?

We have always considered Laphroaig to be the richest of all Scotch whiskies and it's a phrase that we use proudly across all of our liquids for many a generation. My mission with 'Lore' was to create a liquid that was the quintessential Laphroaig, something with incredible depth and complexity whilst retaining the trademark medicinal peat smoke. The breadth of cask types and ages used, I feel have allowed me to achieve a greater depth of flavour, and the quintessential flavours that a whisky I believe is deserving of the description 'the richest of the rich'!

Stylistically, just what sets it apart from previous Laphroaigs?

The use of fully matured in sherry hogshead, quarter cask and 21 years old is deeply unique to Lore and each play their part. The liquid is rich and smoky, with bitter chocolate drops and a fierce chilli bite on the tongue before it lingers with the unforgettable peat finish that gets sweeter as it grows. Visually, we've used a dark green label to really signify the standout nature of Lore against our other liquids. Altogether this almost inverted colour palette from the rest of our core range helps to distinguish 'Laphroaig Lore' as a stand-out whisky.

Which previous expressions have had as much, or more, of a sherry-cask influence?

The only other expressions with greater sherry influence are 25 Years Old, 27 Years Old and 32 Years Old - some of our most valued and adored expressions. Hopefully these influences are reflected in the taste our fans experience.

Why choose to bottle at 48% ABV?

Bottling at 48% ABV allows us to filter Laphroaig without having to chill filter. Also 48% ABV rather than 46% gives Laphroaig a better balance on the palate. Simple as that!

How would you describe the ultimate character of Lore?

Lore is my interpretation of the embodiment of our 200 years of distillery knowledge, a whisky that oozes depth and complexity balanced perfectly with our trademark medicinal peat smoke. It is a whisky that reflects the many characters that have driven Laphroaig's progress over the last 200 years since the Johnston brothers first founded Laphroaig. Not to mention luminaries such as Ian Hunter and Bessie Williamson who pioneered different whisky techniques. As the name denotes, it is a whisky that is only possible because we are lucky enough to be standing on the shoulders of these giants from the Islay whisky landscape. This combined knowledge and body of traditions has allowed me to interpret the key characteristics that make Laphroaig the 'richest of the rich.'