June 5 2016  |  Spirits & Tobacco

Lagavulin: 200 years of peaty whisky overlooking the ruins of Dunyvaig Castle

By Wendy Morley

Arriving at Lagavulin for a morning tour

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.

Scottish welcome party

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.

Despite the proximity of other distilleries, Lagavulin has its very own water supply

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.

The brand's rich history is evident throughout the distillery and its offices

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.

Ruth showing a special limited ediition release for Lagavulin's bicentennial

A special tasting

Selfie where I'm not exactly allowed - up on the ruins of Dunyvaig Castle

The main reason for climbing up to the castle, to get this picture

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