Distillery of the week: Ardbeg distillery, Islay

Ardbeg whisky distillery on Islay. '''Picture: Allan Milligan

Ardbeg whisky distillery on Islay. '''Picture: Allan Milligan

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ARE you a member of the cult of Ardbeg yet? You should be.

Name: Ardbeg distillery

Ardbeg Distillery, Islay. Picture: Ardbeg

Ardbeg Distillery, Islay. Picture: Ardbeg

Location: Port Ellen, Islay

Region: Islay

Owners: Glenmorangie Plc (LVMH)

Founded: 1815

Status: Active

Website: www.ardbeg.com

Popular expressions: Ardbeg 10 years, Uigeadail, Corryvreckan

Ask anyone to name you an Islay whisky and the chances are Ardbeg will be within the top three mentioned, in fact ask anyone to name you a peaty whisky and you’ll more than likely find Ardbeg there too.

Fans of this little distillery are a fanatical bunch, indeed it’s not really a misnomer to call them a cult and we’re sure they’d agree.

Strange to think that the success it currently enjoys almost never happened, indeed the distillery struggled under several owners until it was finally restored in 1997 by Glenmorangie.

Ardbeg, along with fellow Islay distilleries Laphroig and Lagavulin, is one of Scotland’s peatiest malts, with a ppm (Phenol parts per million) of around 55. However, it’s lighter spirit and distillation style means that Ardbeg has subtler, fruitier tones when compared to its bigger, smokier Kidalton cousins.

Officially established in 1815 by John MacDougall, there are records of a distillery being on the site from around 1794.

Expressions:

Ardbeg 10 - Ardbeg’s ‘entry level’ bottling and a big peat monster, it’s well worth buying a bottle or a dram to tempt you on the short road into Ardbeg fandom.

Ardbeg Uigeadail - Named ‘World Whisky of the Year’ in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible in 2009. This expression takes its name from the loch which supplies the water used to make Ardbeg. Pronounced Oog-a-dal, it’s a high strength bottling finished in ex-sherry casks to give it a warm fruity punch to temper that huge peat flavour.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan - A cask strength version of the Ardbeg, named for the infamous whirlpool that lies north of Islay.

Ardbeg Supernova - The peatiest expression ever released by Ardbeg, bottled in 2009 and 2010, and coming in at a whopping 100ppm. This is a must try for those who describe themselves as ‘peat-heads’

Ardbeg Blasda - For those of you simply wanting to dip their toes into the peat filled wonderland of Ardbeg, might we suggest Ardbeg Blasda, produced at only 8ppm, it’s Ardbeg with out the peat punch.

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