Smugglers were distilling whisky here way back in 1794, though officially the Ardbeg Distillery was started in 1815. Located about four miles out of Port Ellen, Ardbeg distillery nestles in a rocky cove on the Island of Islay's southern tip. The island lies off the west coast of Scotland.
This distillery flourished in the nineteenth century, the production rising from 500 gallons in 1835 to 250,000 gallons in 1886. The whisky produced here was an extremely smoky and briny Islay malt. The distillery was owned by the MacDougall family until 1977 after which there were several changes in ownership and functioning.
Unfortunately for the lovers of Ardbeg, who had acquired a taste for this distinctive whisky, the distillery worked only spasmodically between 1981 and 1997. In 1997, the well known Glenmorangie plc gallantly came to the rescue of Ardbeg. They dedicated their efforts to repairing and reviving the distillery and whitewashing it so it was once again a noticeable landmark on Islay’s south coast.
Ardbeg gets its waters from a near by loch named Uigeadail and its peat from a hill that is two miles away. This peat is purely vegetable deposit, not highly decomposed and is devoid of sulfur or any other offensive mineral. The granaries which consist of five barley lofts, capable of storing nearly 3,000 quarters of grain are above the malting department which had four malting floors. Each possesses a brick and cement steep. The spacious kilns attached to the maltings, use only peat.
Ardbeg’s main product is their Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky, the most peaty malt whisky among the Islay malts. It is beautifully balanced, complex and deep. Ardbeg 1965 – The Envy of Islay is a rare Scotch with very few bottles available anywhere. Ardbeg Ten Years Old is the first non-chill filtered whisky in the Ardbeg range.
Very Young Ardbeg was first sold in 2003 as a 6 year old and was the first whisky produced since the reopening of the distillery in 1997. The distillery releases an older version every year till the new stocks are 10 years old. This gives die-hard Ardbeg lovers something to look forward to. A subsequent whisky of this range is Ardbeg Still Young, a zesty but creamier whisky that has rounded from extra aging.
Uigeadail is bottled at cask strength from a bourbon barrel and sherry butt which gives a sweet and smoky finish to this malt. Ardbeg Lord of the Isles is a 25 years old whisky embodies the richness, depth and sweetness of this special whisky.
A unique concept associated with Ardbeg is The Committee which was established in 1945. Anyone who enjoys the whisky can join this group, the general idea being to promote the advancement of general knowledge and enjoyment of Ardbeg. This group will ensure that with their support the distillery will never close again.