History of Lagavulin Distillery


As early as 1742, there were perhaps ten illicit stills operating at Lagavulin.


In 1816 local farmer and distiller John Johnston founded the first legal distillery, within view of Dunyvaig Castle, once the stronghold of the Lords of the Isles.


A year later Archibald Campbell founded a second, which seems later to have traded under the name Ardmore. After Johnston's death the two were united, when Glasgow-based Islay malt merchant Alexander Graham, to whom Johnston had been in debt, acquired Lagavulin for the princely sum of £1,103 9s 8d.
Graham improved the buildings and his successors, James Logan Mackie & Co., carried on the business successfully. As a result, Lagavulin went from strength to strength.


Owner Peter Mackie became famous throughout the whisky world as the creator of the famous blend, White Horse™. A man driven by the Victorian work ethic and so nicknamed by his staff "Restless Peter", he was continually planning fresh ventures, one of which the famous "traditional" Malt Mill distillery opened alongside Lagavulin in 1908 and closed in 1960.
Mackie was also committed to ensuring Lagavulin continued to be produced with meticulous attention to detail. The barley used to distil Lagavulin™ is malted at nearby Port Ellen and has a strong peat "reek" - it has perhaps twenty times as much exposure to peat smoke as a typical Speyside such as Cragganmore Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Fermentation of the barley is a slow process, too. Between 55 and 75 hours are taken for the full peat-rich flavour of the locally-malted barley to come through.
The four stills at Lagavulin, two of them pear-shaped in the style inherited from Malt Mill, take this peaty wort and give it all the time and care it deserves. Following the original practice, Lagavulin™ receives the slowest distillation of any Islay malt - around five hours for the first.


Saw the merger of Grand Met & Guinness into Diageo and the creation of UDV (United Distillers & Vintners). In 2002 Guinness UDV ceased to operate as a separate division of Diageo.


Today Lagavulin has 7 operators and 1 Warehouse-man, a legend of a man who has served 40 years looking after all the casks that are maturing perfectly here by the sea. Our production goes 24/7 all year to ensure that we are making enough spirit for all our fans across the world. Islay is a Mecca for Whisky Connoisseurs so come and visit us and take a tour and taste our wonderful whisky while enjoying some of the most breath-taking views on the island.

To find out more, please visit our distillery.

To find out more, please visit our distillery.

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