Laphroaig 20 Years Old by The Syndicate

$1,125 AUD

53.1% ABV 700 ml

A rare and collectable Laphroaig, the Islay single malt was distilled back in 1988. It was eventually independently bottled in 2008, at the ripe old age of 20 years by The Syndicate at the Bruichladdich Distillery. A curious rendition of Laphroaig by a group of men – yes all men – whose names are identified on the back label, although “Sambo Lewis” might not pass muster these days!

The Syndicate was founded by John McTaggart, an Islay property investor who had been acquiring casks of Islay whisky for his estate as early as the 1970s. He had a habit of bottling these in a myriad of containers for visiting guests and workers there. MacTaggart later invited some friends to join him in the purchase of some 1970s vintage casks, the most famous of these was a parcel of 1979 vintage Lagavulin, and The Syndicate was born. Having been involved in the re-opening of Bruichladdich distillery, John was able to hold his casks in bond there, as well as having access to its bottling hall. Notable for its simple and elegant label designs, The Syndicate bottlings let the whisky do all the talking and are increasingly sought after.


This product is located in the United Kingdom



Laphroaig Distillery

A large distillery for Islay (with capacity equivalent to Ardbeg and Lagavulin put together), many followers including the Prince of Wales, and so a very high-profile despite its somewhat challenging name. It is extreme Islay, almost medicinal – you either hate it or love it. I am firmly in the latter category.

Laphroaig was constructed in 1815 by the brothers, Donald and Alex Johnston. Amazingly, it remained the property of the Johnston family until 1954. Ian Hunter, the great grandson of Donald, was in charge from 1908 until 1954. In an interesting gesture, he left the distillery to his secretary, Bessie Williamson, who had basically run the place whilst he promoted Laphroaig around the world. She gradually sold it off between 1962 and 1967 to the Schenley Industries’ subsidiary of Seager Evans. The latter were London gin rectifiers who had diversified into Scotch whisky in 1927 by building the Strathclyde grain distillery in Glasgow. They later went on to acquire the Long John brand of Scotch whisky, which, for a period, became closely associated with Laphroaig, when the latter became part of Long John International Ltd., which was set up in 1971 to manage Schenley’s Scotch whisky interests. These were acquired in 1975 my Whitbread, the prominent British brewers.

Whitbread’s distilling interests, including Laphroaig, went to Allied Distillers in 1989 and then to Jim Beam in 2005 and into Japanese hands in 2014 when Suntory acquired Beam Global.

 That is but a skimming of the surface of the Laphroaig story. There are three books on the subject. Go to the Biblioteca to find out more. For the long-standing dispute with Lagavulin Distillery next door, read about White Horse under “Great Whisky Icons”.