How to Pronounce Laphroaig
The name Laphroaig is pronounced “la-froyg”.
The “Laph” part is pronounced with a soft “l” sound, as in “lap”. The “roaig” part is pronounced with a guttural “r” sound, similar to the French “r”. The emphasis should be placed on the first syllable, “Laph”.
Have a listen to Brian Cox pronounce it in the YouTube video below:
I know from personal experience that the main motivation to look up the correct pronunciation of a whisky is because of a deep respect of the history and culture embed within the area local to the distillery. With whisky being enjoyed globally, the further the whisky travels from the distillery the natural familiarity to a word like Laphroaig fades – hence the need to look it up.
In summary: “la-froyg”.
Though, most will be friendly enough if it is your first time ordering Laphroaig and totally butcher it. I am sure any bartender or waiter will be happy to help correct you, hopefully with the right pronunciation, if you invited them to. Indeed, you can always ask them for their input or watch a few YouTube videos reviewing the range of Laphroaig whiskies to get more confident hearing the word.
Origins of the Word ‘Laphroaig’
The origins of the word Laphroaig are in Gaelic, creating it unusual and challenging sounds for English speakers. Indeed, the word often looks unfamiliar for English speakers and consequently makes it more of a challenge the to pronounce without prior reference. Laphroaig, as a word, may hold local referencing in its meaning, with “lag” meaning “hollow” and “broc” meaning “badger,” referring to the hollow by the distillery where badgers once lived – though there does remain some debate about this.
For example, Charles MacLean in “Whiskypedia: A Compendium of Scottish Whisky” explains that the name may have come from the Gaelic “Lag a’ Mhòra,” which means “the hollow by the broad bay.” This name likely refers to the location of the distillery, which is situated on the southern coast of Islay, overlooking Loch Laphroaig and the Atlantic Ocean.
A view supported by Dominic Roskrow in “The World’s Best Whiskies: 750 Unmissable Drams from Tain to Tokyo” and Dave Broom in “The World Atlas of Whisky”, who goes further suggesting that the the Gaelic names of Scottish distilleries also add to the mystique and romanticism of Scottish whisky, helping to create a sense of connection between the land, the people, and the whisky. There is no doubt that it certainly helps distilleries like Laphroaig create a distinct brand, grounded in history and tradition.
Historically, it is worth noting that the word itself may have changed over time from “Laphroig” to “Laphroaig”, and consequently it would not be a surprise if the pronunciation of the name has also evolved since the distillery was founded in 1815.