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Distillery of the week: Ardbeg distillery, Islay

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

Published: March 8, 2015
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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).

Officially established in 1815 by John MacDougall, there are records of a distillery being on the site from around 1794. It's strange to think that the success it currently enjoys almost never happened, as 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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