John Campbell is master distiller and manager of Laphroaig distillery on Islay. Our passionate whisky-lass, Juliette Venter, asked him a few questions…
JV: Are you originally from Islay ?
JC: I am indeed from Islay and from a village called Port Ellen in the south of the island.
JV: Why did you decide to venture into the whisky industry?
JC: Well it was necessity at first as I needed a mortgage as I was a lobster fisherman at the time. I didn’t want to leave the island so leaned towards whisky and Laphroaig was then, and still remains, the biggest brand on the Island.
JV: Did you ever imagine that you would make it this far in the Scotch industry?
JC: Not really nope and but now feel that I am nowhere near finished yet either!!
JV: Laphroaig has won quite a few awards, describe how that makes you feel.
JC: To me this is testament to the process that was designed long before us and to the people who follow this to this day to make the best with what they can. We are always trying to improve small details to keep making the 10 year old improving.
JV: What is your least favourite spirit?
JC: Vodka will be the spirit I drink the least but I am not sure. Anybody that puts their all into what they produce I really respect!!
JV: Which other spirits do you enjoy?
JC: Red wines I like, bourbons, other whiskies from all countries, sherries.
JV: What are your thoughts regarding the gin industry?
JC: It’s been such a hit in the UK and being produced in rural communities over the past decade amazing!! … and it’s still evolving.
JV: When are you planning to visit Wild About Whisky in South Africa?
JC: I have never been to SA and I hope to manage this sometime and especially when the storms are blowing outside my window right now and you guys have summer!
JV: What are your thoughts on the new regulations concerning previous spirits such as tequila and calvados, and would you be interested in experimenting with those cask types at Laphroaig?
JC: I think Calvados is very interesting and a great match, not sure about tequila up front but its worth a check I feel and especially the mezcals.
JV: Tell us about your future plans for Laphroaig.
JC: There is lots on the radar at the moment. We are going through a lot of personnel changes locally over the next few months, looking towards expanding capacity (when and how) and improving what we currently do process wise.
JV: Are there any new and exciting releases coming our way?
JC: For 2020 a new Cairdeas, new cask strength 10 and another Ian Hunter 9 (Batch 2).
JV: Will Laphroaig ever venture into unpeated whisky?
JC: Nope. We will not.