Laphroaig distillery was built on Islay in 1815 by brothers Alexander and Donald Johnston. In 1847, Donald, who ran the distillery day to day, died after falling into a vat of boiling pot ale. The labels still bore the name 'D Johnston & Co.' into the 1960s.
By the 1920s, now under the ownership of Donald's great grandson Ian Hunter, Laphroaig was being sold as a single malt and the number of stills rose to four. Hunter left the distillery to his secretary Elizabeth 'Bessie' Williamson when he died in 1954, she became the only woman to own and run a Scottish distillery in the 20th century. By the time Bessie retired in 1972, the distillery was owned by American firm Schenley and the number of stills had increased to seven. In 1994 the distillery was awarded a Royal Warrant from HRH The Prince of Wales and Laphroaig founded its member's association, Friends of Laphroaig.
As of 2014 the distillery is owned by Beam Suntory.