Laphroaig honours Bessie Williamson with 25yo whiskyBy Nicola Carruthers
Islay Scotch brand Laphroaig has released a 25-year-old single malt exclusively in global travel retail to celebrate its former distillery manager, Bessie Williamson.
Laphroaig 25 Year Old The Bessie Williamson Story honours the first female distillery manager to own and run a Scotch whisky distillery in the 20th century.
Williamson accepted a summer job at Laphroaig in 1932, working under owner Ian Hunter. Following Hunter’s stroke in 1938, Williamson took over responsibility for US distribution.
She is thought to have been among the first to anticipate the coming trend for single malt Scotch and is credited with positioning the Laphroaig whiskies for the American market.
The Scotch Whisky Association named Williamson as its American spokesperson from 1961 to 1964, when she toured the US representing Islay whisky to buyers and distributors.
John Campbell, Laphroaig distillery manager, said: “Laphroaig is a globally recognised whisky thanks to Bessie. It is well documented that Bessie was universally loved and respected by her colleagues at Laphroaig and the people of Islay.
“It is this aspect that we celebrate with this whisky, remembering her as a true icon of Laphroaig.”
The 43% ABV expression has been aged in refill American oak hogsheads and refill barrels, resulting in a whisky with “lingering warmth and unmistakable character” to symbolise Williamson’s “friendliness, individuality and strength”.
On the nose, the whisky is described as having “spicy and floral notes” with hints of pear drops, green apples and bonbons. The palate is said to deliver “salty tar-oil paste, sweet herbs and spices, acacia honey, tomato leaves and black pepper”.
The whisky comes with a book that details the story of Williamson’s legacy, along with tasting notes and a message from Campbell.
Laphroaig 25 Year Old The Bessie Williamson Story is available exclusively in global travel retail for an RRP of £700 (US$861). Laphroaig is owned by US drinks group Beam Suntory.
Earlier this year, we highlighted three women who shaped the whisky industry, including Laphroaig’s Williamson.