There’s something about the south-eastern shore of Islay.
Laphroaig is situated here. So is Lagavulin. And Ardbeg. Powerful and peaty. Indeed, Ardbeg claims to be the most peaty Islay malt. No mean feat, given the stature of its neighbours.
And all three inspire cult-like dedication and devotion amongst their fans. Laphroaig has the Friends of Laphroaig, and Lagavulin has the Friends of the Classic Malts. Ardbeg, however, has a Committee, members of which are tasked with the very serious (yet seriously fun) job of promoting the distillery around the world and ensuring that its doors never shut again like they did during the dark days of the 1980s and 1990s.
And Ardbeg fans certainly succeed in many and varied ways. For example, how many distilleries can claim to have an award winning symphonic poem written about them (“Ardbeg – the ultimate piece for orchestra”, written by Finnish composer Osmo Tapio Raihala in 2003)?!
Those that don’t write odes to the distillery nevertheless ensure that its releases achieve instant classic status and are snapped up in record time for record prices. The exceptionally heavily peated Supernova, for example, released in January 2009, sold out in two hours. Even the “happy accident” caused by someone pulling the wrong lever at the wrong time to create an unintended blend of Glen Moray and Ardbeg was given space amongst fans’ whisky collections when it was released as Serendipity.
For a distillery supposedly mothballed in 1981, Ardbeg has come a long way since its official reopening in 1997, including winning the Visitor Attraction of the Year Award from Whisky Magazine in 2008 for its excellent visitor centre and Kiln Cafe. There may be much that is new at the distillery to celebrate, yet it hasn’t forgotten its past, all the way back to the area’s Celtic roots – the Kildalton Cross near the distillery dates from the 8th century, and the classic Ardbeg ‘A’ is derived from the Book of Kells!
General Tasting Notes
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Distillery Contact Information
Address: Port Ellen, Isle of Islay, Argyll, PA42 7EA
Tel: +44 (0)1496 30 2244
Fax: +44 (0)1496 30 2040
Tours: September – May: Monday to Friday, 10:00 – 16:00 (closed over Christmas period). June – August: 7 days a week, 10:00 – 17:00. Pre-booking for tours is advisable.
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