Here’s How You Can Have Your Own Tiny Plot Of Islay (Hint: It Involves Whisky)

| April 30, 2015

I’ve got a little secret to let you in on – I’m a Scottish landholder, or more specifically, I have a life long lease on a plot of soil near the Laphroaig distillery on Scotland’s island of Islay. It is just a square foot in a field across from Laphroaig, and I’ve never actually been to visit it, but I’m proud to call myself one of apparently over 700,000 people (see how I got at that number below) leasing similar slices of whisky nirvana around me.

To get to becoming one of this privileged group, known as the Friends of Laphroaig, all I had to do was purchase a bottle of the distillery’s Scotch (it was actually given to me as a gift, so my land is totally free as a result). The whisky I ended up with had inside the accompanying packaging a booklet with a unique purchase number on it. This number, when registered on Laphroaig’s website, revealed to me the square foot plot of land I could mostly call my own.

A tiny slice of Islay to call my own, courtesy of Laphroaig (screen grab image via Laphroaig)

A tiny slice of Islay to call my own, courtesy of Laphroaig (screen grab image via Laphroaig)

Apparently, as a result of having some of Laphroaig’s turf under my care, I get a yearly rent payable to me if I actually ever make it over there that comes in the form of a dram of whisky on the distillery. Not a bad payout if I do say so myself! It should be noted you do not get with your plot, however, “heritable ownership or any right to cut peat, farm sheep or extract minerals.” Drat!

The land program, according to the distillery, followed sometime after Laphroaig’s founders, Donald and Alexander Johnston,

had to fight three times to protect our precious and unique water supply. The final solution involved buying the land that our water ran through. So we decided that every Friend of Laphroaig should have (for their lifetime) their own personal square foot of Islay from a portion of this land. Each plot is registered and you may visit it.

Now should you actually end up finding yourself at this “rolling green pasture,” noted Men’s Journal, you’ll see tiny flags dotting it which represent the lands from which the leasees herald from around the world. Apparently for some it is not enough to have just the flags though, with some people going so far as to “construct miniature houses for their square-foot estates, maintaining them like real landlords.”

The land set aside for Friends of Laphroaig land holders (image via Martyn Jenkins/flickr

The land set aside for Friends of Laphroaig land holders – note the tiny flags below the sign (image via Martyn Jenkins/flickr)

If you cannot make it, fear not, for you can at least get a bird’s eye view of your plot through the Friends website, as well as Google Earth should you happen to know the GPS coordinates of it (here’s mine for the curious). These coordinates are provided to you, by the way, when you register and view your plot through the Laphroaig map behind the Friends login page.

So, the next time you find yourself with a newly acquired, or gifted, bottle of Laphroaig, know you too can join in on having the smallest sliver of Islay land to call your own.

Note: With regards to the number of people who already have slices of Islay, just to be clear, I got the number of over 700,000 based upon going as high as the numbers will show me in the Friends database. It was at 712,400 specifically when I checked just prior to this post, with plot 1 being under the care of the whisky loving Duke & Duchess of Rothesay (aka, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla).


Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...