Nov 9, 2011

Islay’s faithful son

The small Scottish Island of Islay is home to 8 distilleries, all but one coastal and battered by salt winds. The malts made here include some of the wildest and most characterful in the malt-whisky spectrum, with flavours and aromas described by words such as phenol, tar, smoke, iodine and carbolic. They take a bit of getting used to, a property which is used expertly in Laphroaig’s marketing to create a loyal band of true fans.

Telling its story on packaging, Laphroaig’s simple, green glass bottle hints at the flavours whilst simultaneously sending a signal that this brand ‘doesn’t do pretty’. The mostly black and white labels are reminders of the distilleries themselves, and as a range they have a basic and relatively uncoordinated look that belies their price. The focus of the storytelling is on what fans expect: the quality and individuality of the whiskies themselves and not what they refer to as ‘this design nonsense’.