Across the road from the Laphroaig distillery on Islay, the Scottish island known for producing the smokiest scotch whiskey in the world, is a rolling green pasture that looks like any other patch of Scottish countryside: very damp, very green. On the ground, though, is a smattering of colorful little flags – thousands, likely – from countries from all over the world.
These flags represent Friends of Laphroaig, the name the distillery gives to its loyal customers. Each of those flags is planted on each of the one-square-foot plots of land belonging to the distillery’s “Friends,” who plant their flags after making the complicated trip to this outpost in the Hebrides. Visiting in person offers these landlords the opportunity to collect the rent: a dram of whiskey, served on-site at the distillery.
The best part? Becoming a Laphroaig landlord is free, if you’ve got a bottle of the stuff lying around.
Once you’ve registered your bottle’s bar code on Laphroaig’s website, you’ll be assigned a square foot of land at the distillery, and directed to a map on Laphroaig.com set up with your plot’s GPS coordinates. That bit is rewarding, but the best part is visiting this small green island where, it seems, there are as many whiskey bars and golf courses as there are people. Be sure to stake your claim and plant your flag on the visit – the distillery keeps all the world’s flags on hand, as well as blank ones so you can make your own.
Some longtime Friends of Laphroaig have even gone so far as to construct miniature houses for their square-foot estates, maintaining them like real landlords. We totally get it: Really good scotch tends to have strange effects on people.