The last distillery on the road along the south coast from Port Ellen on the magical island of Islay, past Laphroaig and Lagavulin. The distillery itself dates back to the final years of the eighteenth century. The site’s water source, Loch Uigeadail, is superb and has had the honour of having a whisky named after it. Until 1976/’77 Ardbeg still had its own malting floor, but take their heavily peated malt from the Port Ellen maltings. Jim Murray, in his Complete Guide to Whisky, described Ardbeg as the greatest distillery to be found on Earth. This was high praise indeed, given that the distillery was mothballed for most of the 1980’s until Glenmorangie took control in 1997 and secured its future. The transformation from neglect to a homely and handsome distillery with a fine restaurant has been heartening to watch.
Powerful, muscular, well-textured, and invigorating. Even within the realm of Ardbeg, this one stands out. The more aggressive notes of coal tar, damp kiln, anise, and smoked seaweed are supported by an array of fruit (black raspberry, black cherry, plum), dark chocolate, espresso, molasses, bacon fat, kalamata olive, and warming cinnamon on the finish. Quite stunning!