SLTN speaks with John Campbell, distillery manager at Laphroaig
Q: What do you make?
A: Laphroaig single malt scotch whisky.
Q: Where do you work?
A: Laphroaig, Isle of Islay. Heaven.
Q: How long have you worked there and how did you start?
A: I have been working for Laphroaig for 26 years, I started off stenciling the numbers on the casks!
Q: Describe the production process.
A: The production of single malt scotch whisky requires three ingredients: water, malted barley and yeast. While all distilleries follow the same process, each has their own nuances that make their whisky unique. At Laphroaig we produce our own malted barley on site and use an unbalanced distillation on seven stills – most other distilleries work their stills as a pair. Our spirit still cuts are also added later than any other distillery to maximise the peaty flavour for which Laphroaig is known.
Q: What’s a typical day like?
A: I start the day with a production performance review at around 8am, this allows me to determine if we are on track. Doing this also allows me to pick up on any issues which may have arisen and need to be addressed. Once this is complete, l will plan for future activities and support with marketing.
Q: Please provide brief tasting notes for your products.
A: Laphroaig single malt is peaty, fruity, floral, salty and maritime tasting.
Q: What would you say sets your product apart?
A: The depth of flavour.
Q: What one fact should bartenders know about your brand?
A: Our Friends of Laphroaig club has a million members.
Q: What’s your favourite part of the job?
A: The variety it offers me – one day I am producing the liquid and the next I am engaging consumers.
Q: What’s your favourite way to drink your brand?
A: Straight with a glass of water on the side.
Q: What’s your career highlight so far?
A: If I had to pick just one it would be being asked to create a single malt whisky on behalf of the Scotch Whisky Association to celebrate 100 years at the George Washington Distillery in Virginia (2012).
Q: Who do you admire in the industry and why?
A: I admire everyone in the industry as they are full of passion for the brands they represent. They also care about the good of the industry which is pretty unique.
Q: How do you relax outside of work?
A: Family, American football and golf.
Q: If you could invite anyone for a drink who would you ask, where would you go and what would you drink?
A: I would ask my sons to join me at Augusta golf club to drink Laphroaig 30 year old.