Ardbeg Malt Whisky Distillery

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The Ardbeg Whisky Distillery & Story

Ardbeg Whisky Distillery.  You can find this powerhouse single malt distillery on the Scottish island of Islay.

Located on the southern coast the Ardbeg (ard-BEG) Distillery is east of the Lagavulin, Laphroig and closed Port Ellen distilleries.

The Ardbeg house style is  heavily peaty smokey phenolic single malt whiskies.

However, the introduction of sherry cask maturation introduces a rich, spicy, peaty whisky to the range.

All Ardbeg limited editions or discontinued whisky are sought after by both drinkers and collectors.


Our Top 3 Ardbeg Malt whiskies


How the Ardbeg Whisky Distillery Story Began

In 1794 founder Alexander Stewart is the first recorded owner of a distillery at Ardbeg.

Four years later ownership passed to Donald MacDougall. His son John MacDougall built the present distillery in 1815.

The distillery passes to his son  Alexander MacDougall. In 1853 Alexander dies. His sisters Margret and Flora MacDougall take over with the operation of the Ardbeg distillery with assistance from Colin Hay.  Who takes over the license when the sisters pass away.

Colin Hay with partners Alexander Wilson and Gray Buchanan renew the distillery license in 1888.

Colin Hay’s son becomes the next license holder in 1900.

In 1959 the distillery becomes a limited company, Ardbeg Distillery Ltd.

Ownership part passes to Hiram Walker Distillers Company for £300.000 during 1973 in partnership with the Ardbeg Distillery Trust.

Four years later Hiram Walker gains sole control. The distillery maltings are closed.

Mothballed in 1981. The following year Allied Lyons absorbs Hiram Walker gaining ownership of the Ardbeg Distillery.

Ardbeg Whisky Distillery The Revival.

Ardbeg, unlike its neighbours Laphroaig and Lagavulin, has not enjoyed the same uninterrupted period of production since its opening.

In fact between 1981 and 1989 it was famously closed, whilst the then owners Allied distillers decided what to do with the distillery. It was re-opened in 1990 but only operated up to 6 weeks of the year from 1991 until 1996 when the distillery closed again…for good.

In 1997 the Glenmorangie company bought the distillery and all its stock, re-starting distillation in earnest in 1998, bringing much needed stability and expertise in maturation particularly.

In effect they had resurrected a slumbering beast.

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The Ardbeg Whisky Distillery

Officially founded in 1815.

Location; The Isle of Islay, South shore district.

Water Source; Loch Uigeadail.

Ardbeg Whisky Distillery Equipment.

4.5 Ton Stainless steel semi-lauter Mash Tun.

6  Oregon Pine Washbacks. 55 hour Fermentation time.

2 large pot stills. Low wines and Spirit stills both the same large “Waisted” size,  with outside condensers, The spirit still is fitted with a purifier that channels the heavier spirit from the lyne arm back into the still for further distillation.

The spirit safe comes from Archibald McMillian of Edinburgh

Matured in American oak ex bourbon casks with some ex sherry butts reserved for special bottlings.

Ardbeg Malt Whisky Expressions

Under Glenmorangie ownership, the Ardbeg distillery  was recognised finally,  that the malt whiskies produced where of high quality.

However what was needed was attention to cask quality and brand marketing to bring the Ardbeg  the following and cult status the distillery enjoys today.

As the distiller of Smokey Phenolic single malt whiskies individual character.

The introduction of sherry casks has added  Rich, Spicey, Peaty Characters to the ardbeg

Ardbeg’s ‘house style’ when young is all about warming peat smoke, smoked fish, seaweed with a balancing citrus sweetness, whilst the older bottlings take on more rich spices such as cinnamon and aniseed which integrate very well with the peat.

For a ‘younger’ experience try Ardbeg ’10 year old’ and for an older, more mature expression try Airigh Nam Beist 1990 or Lord of The Isles.

Ardbeg Single Malt Whisky limited editions and discontinued whiskies are amongst one of the most sought after malts by both collectors and drinkers, Ardbeg is commonly awarded the highest critical acclaim.

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Take a tour of the Ardbeg Malt Whisky Distillery

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The Ardbeg distillery visitors centre is well worth a visit and regularly run guided tours of the distillery throughout the course of the day.

A number of the tours include tasting sessions where you can sample some of the drams they have to offer.

Click here for more information on the Ardbeg visitors centre

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Ardbeg Single Malt Whisky.

Production resumed in 1997.

Using stock from the previous owners the Ardbeg 10 year old was released in 2000. Followed by:

Lord of the Isles and 25 year old in 2001.

Committee Reserve and Ardbeg 1974 in 2002. Uigeadail in 2003.

The first of the new era whiskies “Very Young” in 2004 and from 1980 distillation the “kildalton” limited edition.

Serendipity (Blended malt with Glen Moray) in 2005.

Still Young“, Airigh Nam Beist and later in the year “Almost There” in 2006. Also a older 1965 vintage was released.

An older distillation the “Mor” a 10 rear old in a 4.5 bottle in 2007.

The following year 2008 saw the “introducing  10 year old“, Rennaissance, Corryvreckan, Blasda and Mor II.

Supernova the peatiest Ardbeg in 2009. Rollercoaster and Supernova in 2010.

Alligator 2011.  Ardbeg Day and Galileo in 2012.  Ardbog in 2013.

Auriverdes, Kildalton, Supanova (SN2014) in 2014. Perpetuum and Supanova (SN2015) in 2015.

Dark Cove  and the limited edition Dark Cove Committee Release in 2016.

Our Ardbeg Malt Whisky Range - In stock and available to buy

Image Credits

Header image by Ayack (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons