Single malt whisky is a type of whisky that is made by a single distillery from a single mash of malted barley. It is seen as an elite whisky due to these strict requirements, making it the ideal beverage for someone looking for a drink with an interesting history and rich flavor profile.
Two brands that produce single malt whisky are Lagavulin and Laphroaig, both of which are produced in Scotland. I
n this article, we will look at Lagavulin vs Laphroaig whisky and compare how they are made, which products they have available, and the history behind the brands.
Lagavulin vs Laphroaig Whisky
Lagavulin was established in 1816 and was owned during the 1800s by Peter Mackie, who created the White Horse blend.
The whisky made by this distillery is produced in full copper stills, allowing less contact between the beverage and the still. It is also produced using slow distillation which creates a weighty and versatile whisky product.
It was acquired in 1997 by Diageo, with one of Lagavulin’s whiskies joining the owner’s collection of Classic Malts. Since then, a triple-matured scotch expression has been produced and joined the “Friends of the Classic Malts” collection in 2014.
Lagavulin went through several ownerships before Diageo acquired it, including individuals and companies.
Laphroaig was established in 1815 in Lock Laphroaig 1 year before Lagavulin. Lock Laphroaig is based on the island of Islay in Scotland, which is approximately a 3-minute walk from its competitor. The distillery was created and produced after Scottish laws were relaxed to allow alcohol distillation.
The brand has had many memorable occasions including visits from King Charles of the United Kingdom in 1994 and 2008, establishing itself globally in 1929, and problems with its neighbors for 20 years. It is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland with a long and rich history behind it.
How Are They Made?
Single malt whisky is made entirely from malted barley, with water being the second main ingredient. Initially, the barley is harvested and malted which is the process of fermenting the grain. This causes the sugar within the grain to convert to alcohol and is used to create a malt mash.
The most important part of producing whisky is the distillation process in which the mash and water solution are heated to produce steam. This is done in pot stills (usually) which capture the vapor which consists more of alcohol than water. The vapor is caught and cooled down which produces the ‘whisky’.
This whisky is then transferred into oak casks which are usually sherry or brandy barrels that infuse the whisky with the color and flavors it is known for. Depending on how the cask was treated and then what it contained before, this will affect the final flavor of the whisky.
Different brands will keep the whisky in these barrels for a specific period, with longer aging usually amounting to a higher-quality and pricier whisky.
What Are They Made of?
Laphroaig Scotch Whisky is made using 3 main ingredients, with those being water, yeast, and barley. The barley is ground down and blended with the water and yeast to produce the whisky product which is then barrel-aged.
Laphroaig uses American white oak barrels which have previously contained bourbon to infuse the whisky with the flavor.
Lagavulin Whisky is made with water collected from the Solan Lochs with the peat, which is added to the fire, being collected from the west of Islay.
It is produced using malted barley as the base ingredient, with the barley and peat creating Lagavulin’s distinct flavor profile.
How Are They Similar?
Laphroaig and Lagavulin whisky are both produced using malted barley as a base ingredient, with the barley being harvested in Scotland on the island of Islay.
This is due to both brands producing their whisky in the same area, with Lagavulin distilled in Lagavulin and Laphroaig distilled in Lock Laphroaig.
The brands do differ in other ways though. Laphroaig has a higher proof than Lagavulin, but it has a lower average price than its competitor. Both brands produce a whisky with smoky notes and finishing notes of sea salt and seaweed.
Direct Comparison of Lagavulin Whisky and Laphroaig Whisky
|Item||Lagavulin Whisky||Laphroaig Whisky|
|Production Area||Lagavulin, Island of Islay, Scotland||Lock Laphroaig, Island of Islay, Scotland|
|Raw Ingredients||Malted Barley||Malted Barley|
|Alcohol by Volume (ABV)||43% (86 proof)||60% (120 proof)|
|Taste||Smoked peat, mahogany, sweetness, sea salt||Smoky flavor, seaweed, light sweetness|
|Color||Light gold to deep amber||Gold with a light reddish hue|
Lagavulin Whisky Variations
Lagavulin’s priciest offering is their 37-Year-Old single malt with the 26-year-old edition being the next option with the highest price. Meanwhile, the most affordable option is the 8-year-old single malt which can be bought for approximately $66.
|Item||Average Price||Alcohol content|
|Lagavulin 11-Year-Old Offerman Edition Single Malt||$83||46% (92 proof)|
|Lagavulin 7-Year-Old Islay Jazz Festival 2022 Single Malt||$113||55,4% (110,8 proof)|
|Lagavulin 12-Year-Old Special Release 2022 Single Malt||$50||57,3% (114,6 proof)|
|Lagavulin 10-Year-Old||$95||43% (86 proof)|
|Lagavulin 16-Year-Old Single Malt||$98||43% (86 proof)|
|Lagavulin 8-Year-Old Single Malt||$70||48% (96 proof)|
|Lagavulin 12-Year-Old Special Release 2021 Single Malt||$155||56,5% 113 proof)|
|Lagavulin 8-Year-Old 200th Anniversary Edition||$84||48% (96 proof)|
|Lagavulin 26-Year-Old Special Release 2021 Single Malt||$2 151||44,2% (88,4 proof)|
|Lagavulin 37-Year-Old Single Malt||$3 000||51% (102 proof)|
|Lagavulin 9-Year-Old House of Lannister||$95||46% (92 proof)|
|Lagavulin 2006 Distillers Edition||$125||43% (86 proof)|
Laphroaig Whisky Variations
Laphroaig has 12 variations available for purchase with the priciest option being the 20-year-old Artist #11 which is available for $904 at an alcohol content of 58,3%.
The most affordable option on the list is the Quarter Cask, followed by the Select whisky.
|Item||Average Price||Alcohol Content|
|Laphroaig 16-Year-Old||$107||48% (96 proof)|
|Laphroaig 10-Year-Old||$48||40% (80 proof)|
|Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Cask Strength Batch 015||$88||56,5% (113 proof)|
|Laphroaig Quarter Cask||$30||48% (96 proof)|
|Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Cask Strength Batch 014||$88||58,6% (117 proof)|
|Laphroaig PX Cask (1 liter)||$120||48% (96 proof)|
|Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Sherry Oak Finish||$71||48% (96 proof)|
|Laphroaig Lore||$81||48% (96 proof)|
|Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Cask Strength Batch 013||$95||57,9% (115,8 proof)|
|Laphroaig Four Oak||$77||40% (80 proof)|
|Laphroaig Select||$40||40% (80 proof)|
|Laphroaig Over 20-Year-Old Artist #11||$904||58,3% (116,6 proof)|
How To Drink Laphroaig and Lagavulin Whisky
Given that both Laphroaig and Lagavulin whisky are single malts, they can be drunk in the same way. Whisky can be drunk either neat or with a splash of water.
The water will open the tasting notes of the whisky, however, too much water can dilute the beverage too much. This is also the reason single malt should not be drunk with ice.
It is recommended that you start by trying your whisky neat first then adding water after. You should never let more than 20% of the glass contain water as it will affect the taste of the beverage.
To drink it properly, you should pour 1 to 2 ounces of whisky into a scotch glass which will allow the beverage to breathe.
For an alternative to Lagavulin whisky, Port Charlotte is a good comparison. Owned by Bruichladdich, this whisky is a good comparison as it is a single malt with a high-peat content. Port Charlotte can be bought for $69 at an alcohol by volume (ABV) o 50% (100 proof).
Another alternative, also owned by Bruichladdich, is their Octomore collection which includes 3 whisky options. These whiskies have a high peat content and a rich flavor. It can be bought for approximately $220 at an ABV of 57,3% (114,6 proof).
A good alternative to Laphroaig whisky is Ardbeg Uigeadail which is a single malt whisky produced in the isle of Islay in Scotland. This beverage has a deep golden hue with tasting notes of smoke, spice, and light sweetness. It can be bought for approximately $85 at an ABV of 54,2% (108,4 proof).
Otherwise, Talisker Single Malt Whisky is a good alternative and can be bought for approximately $48 at an ABV of 45,8% (91,6 proof). It is another whisky brand owned by Diageo and has tasting notes that capture the beauty and wildness of the Isle of Skye.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which came first?
Laphroaig was established in 1815 while Lagavulin was established in 1816. This means that Laphroaig came first by one year, with both operating from the island of Islay in Scotland.
Which is stronger?
Laphroaig has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of approximately 60% (120 proof) while Lagavulin has an ABV of approximately 43% (86 proof). This means that Laphroaig is stronger than Lagavulin although the exact alcohol content of each whisky differs.
Which is the most popular?
Depending on what you prefer in a whisky, either option is more popular. Given the similarities and differences between them, it is difficult to determine which is more popular.
If you prefer a more vibrant whisky, Lagavulin is a better choice whereas Laphroaig is better for a sweeter malt.