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No: 206
Producer: United
Region: Islay
District: South Shore  -   Multimap view
OS Sheet 60 ; Map reference NR 406 457 ; Latitude 55 38° N, Longitude 6 7.4° W
Founded 1837 ; Operating Status: open

"Decanter" magazine compared the relationship of Lagavulin and Laphroaig on Islay with that of Cheval Blanc and Petrus in Bordeaux. In name at least Lagavulin must be Cheval Blanc as it contributes whisky to the White Horse blends and the animal decorates the distillery sign. At a glance the cream- painted distillery buildings could be an inn called the White Horse. The distillery's water arrives by way of a fast-flowing stream that no doubt picks up plenty of peat on the way. The maturation warehouses are battered by the sea and have their own jetty. When the seas are high, Lagavulin's outer walls are knee-high in salt water.

Lagavulin (pronounced "Lagga-voolin") means "the hollow where the mill is" and two ancient millstones survive to this day among other incongruous stones around the site. There are reputed to have been 10 illicit stills on this bay in the mid 1700s, not least because by a curious twist of fate, Islay was the only place in Scotland where no Excise officer operated between 1707 and 1823. Lagavulin went legal in 1816 and there were certainly two distilleries here in the early 1800s, combining in the 1830s. By 1875 Lagavulin was producing 75,000 gallons of whisky and in 1890 it was bought by Mackie & Co of Glasgow. Lagavulin became the distillery of "Restless Peter" Mackie, creator of the "White Horse" blend. Lagavulin uses Larch wood washbacks and individual onion-shaped stills with unique steep swan-necked lye pipes which the distillers claim profoundly affect the taste and refuse to change in any way.

Further information

A copy of United Distillers' own illustrated pamphlet about Lagavulin can be found here and there is further UD-orientated material in their InfoCenter, here Another article can be found at the SMWS home page

Distillery rating: 5*

Port Ellen, Islay, PA42 7DZ
Tel: 01496-2250 and 01496-2400


16 yr old, 86 proof
Arguably the best of the Islays because of its balance. A bit of iodine, a bit of smoke, moderately peaty. It has the smoothest finish. [lh]

Hear "Lagavulin" pronounced in AU or WAV format
Search Dr. Do'g's index for the history of Lagavulin
There just might be some news about Lagavulin in The "Scotsman" newspaper