Last week over half a million whisky and Islay fans all over the world received an email from John Campbell, distillery manager of Laphroaig Distillery, about the 18th birthday of the Friends of Laphroaig (FOL). In fact, there were 502,015 friends of the Islay Distillery to be precise who received this email and these are staggering numbers. This month it's 18 years ago that Laphroaig started with the FOL activities and I myself joined the friends in July 2002 as nr 178,889. In the meantime all the family members are a friend of the distillery, including our 3yr old daughter. Being a friend of Laphroaig gives you first of all a square foot of land on Islay on the piece of land opposite the distillery and this is where the fun starts. You're supposed to visit your plot of land as much as possible, at least annually, to collect the rent, a dram of Laphroaig, to be collected at the visitors centre. This is perhaps not THE reason for visiting Islay but in my humble opinion a dram good one!
By starting the Friends of Laphroaig I can imagine that Laphroaig Distillery is for a large part responsible for getting Islay on the map abroad and for the growth in tourism, after all, they started in a time when distilleries like Ardbeg and Bruichladdich were closed/mothballed and Kilchoman distillery didn't exist. It was also a time that whisky wasn't half as popular as it is today. Now back to the email John Campbell sent to all the friends. Of course there will be quite a few celebrations in the month of May and they will mainly concentrate around the Islay Festival for which you have to be on the island. There is also another way in which you can partake in the celebrations and that is by designing a Friends of Laphroaig Tartan. Continue reading....
Laphroaig Distillery has created a simple and fun tartan making app to help you generate your designs. Itâ€™s quick and easy to use, you just pick your colours and band sizes and the app generates the design for you right there and then. Once your tartan has been submitted it will appear in the FOL gallery along with all of the other submissions and FOLs will be encouraged to vote for their favourite designs. I've done a wee bit of tartan homework myself as well and submitted the design you see in the first image to the gallery, without the logo of course. You don't need to be logged in to vote but you have to login as friend if you want to create a tartan yourself.
The top 20 designs will be judged by the distillery team and the overall winner will become the official FOL tartan. The winner will receive a luxurious kilt produced to their design by Gordon Covell of the Islay Woolen Mill. You have until 31st May to submit your tartan or to vote on a winner. In the meanwhile John will be raising a dram to the Friends of Laphroaig as often as he can during this birthday month, I will open a bottle of Laphroaig 18 year old tonight. SlÃ¡inte!