Marcel van Gils & Hans Offringa
This is an exceptional book that delves into the rich history and heritage of the renowned Laphroaig distillery. Offringa, a well-respected whisky writer and historian, presents a comprehensive account of the distillery's journey over two centuries, offering a delightful read for whisky enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.
One of the notable strengths of this book is Offringa's meticulous research and attention to detail, assisted no doubt by the other half of the “Whisky Couple” – Becky Lovett Offringa. And, of course, the notable Laphroaig collector, Marcel van Gils, not only provides superb photography but also acts as the contributing editor. What a team! However, it is Hans who skilfully weaves together historical facts, anecdotes, and personal narratives to paint a vivid picture of Laphroaig's evolution. Readers are taken on a captivating journey, starting from the distillery's humble beginnings in 1815 on the rugged Scottish island of Islay, through its challenges, triumphs, and changes over the years.
Offringa's writing style is engaging and accessible, making it easy for both seasoned whisky enthusiasts and newcomers to enjoy the book. He strikes a balance between providing technical information about the whisky-making process and infusing the narrative with captivating stories about the people behind the distillery. This blend of history and personal tales adds depth and humanises the brand, allowing readers to develop a genuine connection to Laphroaig.
Furthermore, the book is beautifully presented, with stunning photographs, illustrations, and drawings that add to the overall visual appeal. The attention to detail in the layout and design further enhances the reading experience and showcases the passion and dedication that went into its creation.
While the book gives due prominence to the history of the Laphroaig distillery, building on the authors’ earlier work – The Legend of Laphroaig - it also offers insights into Islay's distinctive terroir, and the impact of different ownership changes on the brand. This broader context enriches the narrative, providing readers with a more comprehensive understanding of the distillery's place within the whisky world.
If there is one minor criticism, it would be that the book could have delved deeper into some specific aspects of Laphroaig's history. While Offringa covers the major milestones and significant moments, certain periods or topics may have merited more in-depth exploration, such as the historical and often tempestuous relationship with the Mackies of White Horse and Lagavulin fame, but then that might have seen lawyers getting involved! And a work of this quality could have benefitted from being indexed. However, none of this significantly detracts from the overall superb quality of the book.
I particularly like the treatment given to the workers (past and present) at the distillery and to the involvement of The King, as Prince of Wales. Does Laphroaig now become the chosen whisky of King Charles III?
In conclusion, "200 Years of Laphroaig 1815 - 2015" is a highly recommended read for whisky enthusiasts, history buffs, and anyone curious about the fascinating world of Scotch whisky. Hans Offringa's passion for the subject shines through in his meticulous research and engaging storytelling, as does that of Marcel with his beautiful presentation of so many aspects of Islay and of the distillery and its people. It is a fitting tribute to the enduring legacy of Laphroaig and a valuable addition to any whisky lover's library.
The Whisky Couple’s contribution to the literature of whisky has been quite phenomenal, as so eminently explained in www.thewhiskycouple.com which reveals a striking range of talent and resources for whisky lovers and the industry to draw on.
We have an interesting selection of Laphroaig expressions available online [Link].