|View from the main road|
Lagavulin is the second Kidalton distillery you come across, regardless of which way you travel. As member's of the classic malt society me and mine get a free tour and whisky sampling, but the tour is worth what they were asking in any case.
There's a big difference in photography rules here compared to Bruichladdich and no indoor pictures were allowed. We were ably guided around the distillery by Ruth, who gave us plenty of information on the specifics of the operation here and atsister distillery Caol Ila.
|Old kiln furnaces|
The majority of Lagavulin is aged on the island, here, at Port Ellen in the old distillery warehouses and up at Caol Ila and is largely sold as single malt. Conversely most of Caol Ila whisky is tankered off of theisland and destined to be used in blended whisky to addcharacter to cheaper grain whiskys.
Lagavulin is fairly modernised by Islay standards with metal mash tun and all malt now supplied by Port Ellen maltings. We do get to see into the old kiln furnaces though.
In the wash house I experience another whisky distillery first (for me) we're given the chance to try the wash (fermented beer). Its full of smoke. quite malty and pretty thin. Not much sign of those phenolics yet, they must come through on distillation as they're certainly there in the final product! It reminded me of a rauchbier if all of the speciality malts had been stripped out.
On into the still house and the new make is positively gushing out. There's a fair amount of copper sulphate washed through. This comes from the reaction of sulphur with the copper stills and pipework, eliminating potential unpleasant offtastes from the whisky. This is a large fator in why distilleries use copper instead of stainless steel, despite the massive price difference!
We're led to the tasting room, poured a dram each then left to "supervise" the bottles as the Scandinavian occupants of the room from the preceding tour had clearly been fairly liberal with their measures!