A bottle of liquid history from Islay distillery Laphroaig. This superb 25 year old was first released as a travel retail exclusive.
The bottling honours Elizabeth “Bessie” Williamson, the first female distillery manager to own and operate a whisky distillery in Scotland during the 20th century. Her Laphroaig story begins in 1934, when she joined the distillery as a summer temp, working as a humble typist. At the time she worked under distillery owner and manager Ian Hunter, and quickly rose to become office manager. In 1938, Hunter had a stroke, and Williamson took over responsibility for distribution of Laphroaig in America.
By the time the Second World War came around, Bessie had risen to become the distillery manager. Williamson pivoted the company to appeal more to the US market, and also foresaw the rise of the single malt category. After Hunter died in 1954, Williamson inherited Laphroaig. Her stature in the industry was so high, that she was named the Scotch Whisky Associates US ambassador, and is responsible for the excellent reputation that Scotch whisky enjoys in America.
Williamson worked as the manager of Laphroaig until her retirement in 1972, by which point the distillery’s spirit had been established as one of the most popular and well known Scotch whiskies.
A special whisky is required to honour such a titanic figure, not just for Laphroaig, but for women in the industry in general. Luckily, Laphroaig have risen to the challenge, producing this exquisite bottling. The spirit has been aged in American oak hogsheads and refill barrels, which allow Laphroaig’s house style to dominate, even after so many years.
This dram serves up notes of spicy, salty peat smoke, alongside some gentle flowers, hallmark Laphroaig iodine, pears, apples, sweet malt, black pepper, burnt oak, lemon rind, some slight vegetal notes, heather honey, vanilla and a little espresso.
Coastal, aggressive and smoky, this is classic Laphroaig. The bottling is presented with a book style box, including which includes a history of Bessie’s time at Laphroaig.