The History Of Lagavulin


Lagavulin is said to be one of the oldest distilleries on Islay, consisting originally of 10 small illicit distilleries.


Local farmer and distiller John Johnston converts the buildings into a legal distillery and names it Lagavulin, the first legal operation in the area.


A second distillery appeared, run by one Archibald Campbell. It is later subsumed by Lagavulin.


John Johnston dies and Alexander Graham, Glasgow spirit merchant, acquires the distillery.


The lease for Lagavulin Distillery and farm changes hands, falling under the control of James L Mackie & Co, the company formed by James Mackie in partnership with the surviving member of the Graham family, Captain Graham.


J. L. Mackie brings his nephew Peter J. Mackie into the business and Peter makes the first of many trips to Lagavulin to learn the secrets of distilling.


James Logan Mackie & Co succeed Graham & Co.


Peter succeeds as senior partner, and it is under his guidance that Lagavulin will become a household name. Mackie is better known to colleagues and staff as “Restless Pete”, said to live by the maxim ‘Nothing is Impossible’. The name of the firm changes to Mackie & Co.


Mackie decides to restore two buildings on site, believed to be former still house and store, to their former use, under the name of Malt Mill.


Mackie dies and Mackie & Co becomes White Horse Distillers Ltd. The S.S. Pibroch, a Clyde ‘Puffer’ enters service to transport barley, coal and empty casks to Lagavulin, returning with filled casks of Lagavulin.


White Horse Distillers and Lagavulin join the Distillers Company Limited.


With the advent of war, women are drafted in to work the distillery until 1941 when the distillery finally closed for the duration.


Electricity is introduced to the distillery.


Malt Mill finally closes, but a precious sample of this fabled whisky is kept safe at Lagavulin Distillery.


Lagavulin closes its malting floors and buys in from Port Ellen Maltings.