Laphroaig® unveils an exclusive 25-year-old whisky in celebration of the first woman of whisky – Scotch Whisky News

Laphroaig® unveils an exclusive 25-year-old whisky in celebration of the first woman of whisky 

Introducing The Laphroaig Bessie Williamson Story™

Beam Suntory’s Laphroaig has announced the release of a super-premium 25-year-old Laphroaig, which celebrates the life of Bessie Williamson, an icon of Laphroaig and the first female distillery manager to own and run a Scotch whisky distillery in the 20th century.

This unique and highly exclusive bottle is a tribute to Bessie and embodies many of her qualities including her warm, rich and unmistakably-Islay character. This is a tribute to Bessie and all that she made at Laphroaig.

Laphroaig® 25 Year Old, The Bessie Williamson Story™, will be available exclusively in the Global Travel Retail market for £410.

A celebration of Bessie Williamson

Williamson was born in Glasgow in 1910 to John Williamson, a gunner in France with the Royal Garrison Artillery and Agnes Whyte. She attended the University of Glasgow from 1927, intending to become a teacher, graduating in 1932.

After graduating with an MA in 1932, Bessie accepted a summer job at Laphroaig distillery intending to stay only a few months. She worked directly with then owner Ian Hunter, eventually taking on responsibility for US distribution following Hunter’s stroke in 1938. By the time of the Second World War she had become the full-time distillery manager and the most senior woman in Scotch anywhere in the industry.

Bessie is credited with being among the first to anticipate the coming trend for single malt scotches and to position the Laphroaig whiskies, and by extension other Islay malts, to the American market.  The Scotch Whisky Association named Williamson as its American spokesperson from 1961 to 1964 and she toured the US representing Islay whisky to buyers and distributors.

Laphroaig Bessie Williamson

A whisky of true significance; this super-premium 25-year-old Laphroaig commemorates Bessie, speaking to her success, her unique role on Islay, and her lasting impact on the Laphroaig distillery.

This expression has been aged in refill American oak hogsheads and refill barrels to allow the liquid’s individual character to shine through. The result is a whisky of lingering warmth and unmistakable character – a genuine expression of Bessie’s friendliness, individuality and strength.

The Bessie Williamson Story is presented in a beautifully crafted book that allows purchasers to discover the story of Bessie’s legacy in depth, and includes tasting notes and a message from John Campbell, the distillery manager.

The whisky is now available exclusively through the Global Travel Retail market for an RRP of £410.

John Campbell, Laphroaig distillery manager, comments: “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.”

Tasting Notes


Peaty with spicy and floral notes. Sweeter notes of pear drops, green apples and bonbons that add to a sweet malty backcloth. 


Salty tar oil paste, sweet herbs and spices, acacia honey, tomato leaves and black pepper. Unmistakeable Laphroaig coastal notes with peat smoke sweetness and earthiness bring the classic Islay spirit. 


Warming and long lasting with floral and coastal notes. 


Pale gold.

The whisky is best served neat, with ice or a drop of water. 


Bottled at 43% ABV.

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