LAPHROAIG INTRODUCES A 30-YEAR OLD MASTERPIECE
by Andrew Chalk
Consistency may be the highest-rated value in Scotch whisky. Connoisseurs expect their tipple of choice to remain itself, almost as the soul of its integrity. It expresses reliability, solidity, trustworthiness. The more exclusive, the higher the value of constancy.
Innovating against this background can pose fatal risks. One wrong move and see your brand spiral down collector’s priorities. The quid pro quo is that the spoils of successful innovation can be legendary status, hagiography by generations.
Ian Hunter hit the gong. The last of the Johnston family to own the Laphroaig distillery on Islay, he took the audacious step of introducing American oak in the guise of just released Bourbon barrels into the ageing of Laphroaig whiskey. Scotch lovers already know that Islay whisky, with its intense peatiness and iodine, is the edge case of Scotch. Revered and despised in equal measure, it can’t be ignored. Under Hunter’s management (1908-1944) Laphroaig affected the Scotch equivalent of the American Revolution, French revolution, and R2D2 winning the WWF, in one generation.
To honor this iconoclast, Laphroaig is releasing a 15-part series of rare and collectible whiskies, each packed inside a book. Book One is a 30-year cask strength whisky aged in his beloved one use Bourbon barrels. At $1,250 this Scotch is for the most discriminating collectors and will reward those who wait.