Laphroaig distillery is somewhat notorious for changing the design of its labels multiple times in the same decade. These changes can be drastic, or something as small as the position of the ABV on the label. These small details can sometimes make it difficult to date Laphroaig bottles. And, as the age of the bottle can affect the value, dating the bottles is important.
We have written this comprehensive guide on Laphroaig labels and bottles so that you know exactly which bottle is sitting in your drinks cabinet.
A Few Things To Remember
- Floz – fluid ounces
- ABV – alcohol by volume
- Proof/degrees proof – twice the percentage ABV (e.g. 80 Proof = 40%ABV)
- Quarts – A quarter of a gallon 1.13 litres
- No mention of capacity: most likely pre 1950
- 26 2/3/ fluid ounces: no later than 1980
- 75cl: from 1980 until 1992
- 70cl: 1992 onwards
Laphroaig in the 40s
Older Laphroaig bottles such as those from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s can be very hard to date due to the many variations in bottling styles. Here, I will talk through some of the most common features of older bottlings.
One easy way to discern when your bottle was made is by looking at the details of the volume of the bottle and the volume of alcohol. Today, it is standard for whisky bottles to contain either 70cl or 1 litre of liquid, and the volume of alcohol is given in ABV%. However, pre-1977 this was not the case. Although it varies from bottle to bottle, the proof was generally given in fluid ounces or quarts, i.e. 26 ⅔ floz or ⅘ Quart.
Official Laphroaig bottlings date back to the 1940s. Early 1940s bottles are recognisable because they feature a very plain white label with the name ‘LAPHROAIG’ in the centre. Underneath and justified to the left is the text ‘D. Johnston & Co. Laphroaig Distillery, Islay” written in a cursive font. At the base of the neck of the bottle is a label that reads ‘Strength 20 Under Proof”. The bottle is green glass and notably features a stopper cork instead of a screw cap. Crucially, the volume of the bottles is nowhere to be seen.
In the late 1940s, there was a different bottle design. This design features more text on the label. The top of the label reads “Product of Scotland” and then underneath that reads ‘Laphroaig Scotch Whisky, 14 Years Old, Distilled and Bottled by” and then the name ‘D. Johnston & Co., Laphroaig Distillery’ sits underneath this. Justified to the left at the bottom of the label is the text ‘Established 1845’ and ‘⅘ Quart’ To the right the label reads ‘Islay, Scotland, 91.4 US PROOF’. Underneath this, it is asserted that the label was ‘Printed in Scotland’. This bottle also has a screw cap.
So, already there is a drastic difference in label design within the same decade.
Laphroaig in the 50s & 60s
In the 1950s – although some were available in the 1940s also – there was a Laphroaig ‘Non-Peaty’ expression. This label features the text ‘Old Liqueur Scotch Whisky’ at the top of the label, and states the volume – ’Contents 26 ½ oz’ – and the proof – ‘80 PROOF’. This bottle also features a stopper cork.
A second Laphroaig bottle from the early 1950s is made of dark green glass with a white label and a smaller label on the neck of the bottle. The smaller label reads ‘This Whisky Is 10 Years old’. The label features the name of the distillery, the text ‘Scotch Whisky’, the age statement, and ‘Distilled and Bottled By’. The text below is all in a cursive font and gives the name of the bottler, the distillery, the location, and when the distillery was established. Underneath this is the information regarding proof and volume. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, there are many variations on this type of bottle. One of the tell-tale signs of a pre-1970s bottling is a short screw cap, which have not been used since the late 1960s.
Laphroaig in the 70s
In the 1970s we can see a more drastic change in that the labels on the bottles become longer, with a couple of the bottlings featuring text on the label that tells you how to pronounce the name of the distillery: “Pronounced “La-froyg”. The early 1970s still saw the volume and ABV stated in Quarts and Proofs.
1970s and 1980s bottlings of Laphroaig are quite similar, with the age-statement of the whisky in cursive letters below the Laphroaig logo and the text “Islay Malt Scotch Whisky” or a variation thereupon. These bottles all feature age-statements and statements concerning the volume and volume of alcohol.
However, there is one change that happened in 1977 that is important to look for when dating any bottle. In 1977 it became industry standard to give the volume in cl & floz, and the ABV as a percentage as well as the proof of the bottle, sometimes interchanging between measures. Therefore, if you see a percentage ABV on a bottle it was definitely made post-1977.
Laphroaig in the 80s & 90s
From 1977 until 1980 the fluid ounces and centilitres were used to denote the volume of a bottle. And the ABV was given in degrees proof or percentage ABV. However, post-1980 it was changed again to the current system that we use today: centilitres and percentage ABV. This is an easy way to determine whether or not your bottle dates back to pre-1980.
By the 1980s, the iconic Laphroaig green bottle was in constant use. It is also standard to have the age statement on the smaller label that sits on the neck of the bottle. Stopper corks also became quite popular during the early 1980s and were featured on many official bottlings.
Also in the 1980s, some official Laphroaig bottlings appeared with the age-statement in large, red, cursive letters underneath the rest of the text on the label. These bottles are from the mid-1980s.
Something else to note when dating your bottle of Laphroaig is that it was between 1980 and 1992 that 75cl bottles were standard. From 1992 onwards, 70cl bottles became the new industry standard.
In 1994, Laphroaig received the Royal Warrant from HRH The Prince of Wales. As such, every bottle of Laphroaig since 1994 has the Royal Warrant emblazoned above the Laphroaig logo. The 1990s also saw a change in the font used for the age-statements; the number in 3D style lettering and the text “years old” in cursive underneath this, although there are a number of variations on this that are also from the 1990s.
And so we are up to date. Laphroaig certainly has a reputation for changing their labels and bottles quite often, but this guide should tell you all that you need to know about dating your bottles of Laphroaig. So, why not go into your whisky cabinet and see if you can figure out how old your Laphroaig bottle is?
Free Valuations of Your Laphroaig Whisky
If you have a bottle of Laphroaig that you would like valuing then please use the form below to get in touch and request a free valuation. Pre-Royal Warrant bottlings are especially sought-after, and any Laphroaig bottle that dates back to pre-1970s could command a premium.
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