Wednesday the 29th of June 1994 HRH
Prince Charles, accompanied by his private secretary Richard
Aylard and detective Collin Tinning, paid an official visit to
This visit was well documented at the time but the columns were
not so much filled with details of this visit as his unfortunate
aeroplane crash. Charles overshot the runway attempting to land
his plane on tricky windy Islay.
The plane was so badly damaged that he was unable to fly back
home to Highgrove.
As a result, the 20 minute flying visit turned into a two-and-a
half hour stay, much to the delight of at the time distillery
manager, Iain Henderson. When a new aeroplane eventually arrived,
the Prince left in somewhat of a hurry.
Later that evening the “confession interview” on BBC
Dimbleby was to be broadcasted, and the Prince was anxious
to see it.
the casks...Left: former distillery manager Iain Henderson
Prince with the presented miniature. Left: Andrew Dewar-Durie,
chairman of Allied Dist.
his visit to the distillery, the Prince was invited to bung two
casks of Laphroaig. The two casks were given to him, which he
kindly donated to two charity funds of his choice.
One was a 1978 cask, which was bottled as a 15-year old and auctioned
for the Cancer
Relief Macmillan Fund.
The 1983 cask was to be matured for a further five years for his
50th birthday, also bottled as a 15-year old, and was given in
1999 to an appeal for the Erskine
Hospital for ex-servicemen in Dumbarton.
of these 1983 bottles were sold through Loch
The Prince personally signed 15 of the 270 bottles with his name,
simply: “Charles”. These bottles were auctioned and
some of them for as much as 29.000 pounds. For his personal consumption,
the Prince received a commemorative miniature cask.
Since the Prince’s visit to Laphroaig, the distillery does
a special bottling for Highgrove
with its own label, which can be bought by visitors in the Highgrove
shop on his Gloucestershire estate. These bottlings are either
standard 10 or 15-years old.
In 1994 the distillery was also granted a Royal Warrant, for which
occasion a special 10-year old Laphroaig was bottled, called “Royal
Iain Henderson invites Charles to turn the barley
the warehouse with Iain Henderson
acquired the empty 1978 cask, which was auctioned on Laphroaig’s
website in 2002. Internet auctions were in an early stage, and
not many people were aware of the auction, which ended rather
chaotic. I went to Islay with my wife in May that year and collected
the cask with Iain Henderson, who most kindly received us in the
managers office overlooking Laphroaig Bay and filled us in on
the story of the Prince’s visit. He told us that the distillery
had to ask the Prince’s permission to hand over the cask
...the cask safely home...
then I have found several bottles of both the 1978 and 1983
September 2003 we paid a visit to Erskine
Hospital, where the cask end of the 1983 cask is hung on
a wall of the cafeteria inside the hospital.
would be most grateful if you could provide me with more information
about the auctioned bottles and anything of interest about the
casks in general!
cask end of the 1983 cask in the cafetaria inside Erskine Hospital
thank you letter from the Prince to Laphroaig (click on the image
for the original)
cask back on Islay May 2008
a diner party in The Netherlands on the 6th of December 2007 with
Michael Cockram and Dutch Carola Beije of Beam Global, the cask
was given back to Laphroaig. A new museum was to be made at the
distillery and it was decided the cask should be on display there.
On May the 19th 2008 the cask was picked up from my home and transported
back to Islay.
The pick up
In return Laphroaig made a generous donation
to The Guide Dogs for the
Blind Association. And so the journey of the cask came to
full circle. It turned out that HRH Prince Charles and his wife
the Duchess of Rothesay were to visit Laphroaig a few days later
on Wednesday the 4th of June. Alan Hyslop handed over a copy of
our book "The Legend of Laphroaig" to HRH, which Hans
Offringa and I had signed for him. Thanks Alan and Laphroaig.
Timing is everything...
4th of June 2008 visit (click
on the pictures for the originals)