“Ardbeg is fire; Ardbeg is depth; Ardbeg is nourishment and plenty.”
Andrew Jefford, Peat Smoke And Spirit, 2004
It has always amused me, that it takes a classic wine writer to write the classic book on Islay and its whiskies. And then, to write such a classic statement about Ardbeg, that really does sum up mine and many other’s feelings about this distillery.
Ardbeg just has this allure. The allure of a wild and weather-beaten island and a malt that is wildly smoky as it is breathtaking and so richly flavoured.
But it may come as a surprise that distillers at Ardbeg are actually looking for a spirit that is lean, clean and elegant. No rough edges, no oily congeners, no wide cuts.
Purity of spirit is what they are looking for.
So, add some highly flavoured and very distinctive Islay peat to UK sourced barley and mature the resulting spirit in some very classy American oak casks, on the island of Islay, and that’s where we that that fatuously flavoured malt from.
So, for those that have yet to have the pleasure of Ardbeg or you just don’t get the big smoke thing, let’s have a review of three standard malts from Ardbeg…