“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…

Tin Shed Distilling - Iniquity

Ardbeg 10yo 700ml 46%

For me, this is Ardbeg’s flagship.  And this is the malt that has made Ardbeg’s reputation.  Bright, lively, very smoky with a magic oaky mouthfeel. You can taste the purity of the spirit, ably balanced by the sweet, buttery American oak, creamy malt and then all of these flavours are then well-seasoned by a nice (in the correct meaning) big dose of Islay peated smokiness: Think cured meats, a salty sea breeze, hint of iodine, seaweed and sooty bonfire smoke.

There is such a lot going on in this very tasty dram.

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Ardbeg Uigeadail The Odd Whisky Coy

Ardbeg Uigeadail 700ml 54.2%

Now, we are going to turn up the flavour dial as far as it can go.  More intensive spirit, more expressive peat smoke and then fill it all out with a lush combination of that famed buttery American oak and just the right balance of fruitiness coming from the use of used sherry casks.

It’s a massive drop, but well worth a taste.  And it just lingers.

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Ardbeg 25 yo

Ardbeg 25yo 700ml 46%

From dialling it up, to turning those distinctive flavours down.  And we do this with age.  This is the role of maturity.  Bring all those disparate notes of smoke, oak spirit and malt together into one highly complex malt.

And this ancient Ardbeg, delivers it in heaps.  And as one pundit put it, “this is one of the smoothest and most pleasant peated whiskies I’ve ever tasted”.

That’s what age does to you.

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For our full range of Ardbeg and spirits, take a look at our website here.

Cheers and keep tasting!