Located on the island of Islay. Ardbeg is renowned not just for its peaty style, but also for its sweet citric notes and tarry smoke.
Founded in 1815, Ardbeg suffered during the depression as the demand for blended malts disappeared. The distillery was saved and production in the 60s and 70s increased with the demand for peaty malts. Sadly the style once again fell out of fashion, leading to the mothballing of the distillery in 1981.
Ardbeg started up production again in 1989 but was closed again by 1996 until a year later when Glenmorangie stepped up to buy the distillery and all the stock for £7million. This was a cult distillery by this point, so the new owners set about reviving the brand. Slowly what little stock was remaining at the distillery was released.
2008 was the first release of the 10 Year Old from the ‘new’ operation, but releases including the ‘Almost There’, ‘Still Young’ and ‘Very Young’ had been allowing buyers to follow the Ardbeg journey up until that point.
The distillery produces only around half of the amount of spirit of neighbour Lagavulin and just less than half that of other neighbour Laphroaig, although production is expanding.
This distillery’s cult following can be partially attributed to the creation of the Ardbeg Committee in the year 2000. This group, made up of enthusiasts the world over now numbers more than 160,000 members in more than 130 countries, with the Committee Releases being particularly sought after. Ardbeg now also hosts ‘Ardbeg Day’ with a range of activities for visitors to Islay’s Festival of Music and Malt (Feis Ile) including sailings, BYO tastings, BBQs and masterclasses.
Awards for the distillery include twice winning the World’s Best Single Malt award at the World Whiskies Awards and three consecutive titles of Distillery of the Year at the International Whisky Competition, amongst others.
Ardbeg 10 Year Old
Matured in ex-Bourbon barrels without colouring and non-chill filtered, this is a real peat bomb. It was regarded by TWE as, “probably the highest-quality ‘entry-level’ single malt on the market.”
Ardbeg Supernova is recognised as the most peaty whisky produced by the distillery. The 2010 edition of this was awarded Scotch Whisky of the Year by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible in 2010. The Supernova was first released in 2008 (which was a Committee release, exclusive to the members) with a production of 2,400 bottles. Subsequent releases have been in 2009 (Ardbeg Supernova Stellar), 2010 (Ardbeg Supernova SN2010), 2014 (Ardbeg Supernova SN2014 Committee Release), 2015 (Ardbeg Supernova SN2015 Committee Release) and 2019 (Ardbeg Supernova Committee Release). Ardbeg Hypernova was released in 2022, becoming the most peaty expression currently produced by Ardbeg.
Ardbeg Cask Strength No. 3
The most expensive cask of Scotch ever sold, in July 2022 was a cask of Ardbeg, selling for £16million. Cask Strength No.3 first entered two separate casks, one Bourbon and one Oloroso, in 1975. The casks were combined in 2014 in Sherry casks for further ageing. One of the final great remaining casks from this era, most have either been bottled or blended. This was a true piece of both Ardbeg and Scotch whisky history.
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