Lagavulin: 200 years of peaty whisky overlooking the ruins of Dunyvaig Castle
There really is nothing like a walk from Port Ellen to Lagavulin in the morning on a beautiful day. The scenery is both pastoral and spectacular. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get Ruth as a tour guide in the Lagavulin distillery, as I did.
The river that runs into Lagavulin and acts as its water source is black with peat, giving a solid hint as to the background of Islay’s smoky tradition.
Nothing is wasted at this distillery; the first wash is used as the second wash, and any remains of the washed grains are sent to farmers’ fields as nourishing food.
As with Caol Ila, the mash is fermented in wood before heading off to the copper stills. It’s here where you see the difference in old and new whisky making. Whereas once upon a time the distillery would have employed dozens of men, heating is now supplied by a boiler rather than peat, and the entire process is computerized. But for the most part, Lagavulin is made the same today as it was 200 years ago. Bicentennial celebrations will be taking place later this year.