Ardbeg distillery information
Established in 1815 (the same year Laphroaig was established nearby) by John McDougal, the Ardbeg distillery is located on the south-side of the Isle of Islay. In 1838, it was sold to Thomas Buchanan, for the sum of 1,800 GBP . John’s son Alexander is kept on as a distillery manager until his death in 1853. After his death, the distillery was co-run by Colin Hay and McDougall’s sisters, Margaret and Flora, who may have been Scotland’s first female distillers. In 1922, the distillery is purchased back by Alexander McDougall & Co Ltd for the sum of 19,000 GBP. It would remain in their ownership until 1959, when Ardbeg Distillery Ltd buys ownership following a liquidation. In 1977, Hiram Walker & Sons then buys the distillery, only to close it in 1981, presumably due to the whisky crisis of the early 1980s.
Hiram Walker & Sons was acquired by Allied Distillers in 1987, and production is resumed on a much smaller scale in 1989. However, the distillery was forced to close again in 1991. In 1997, Glenmorangie PLC (owners of the Glenmorangie distillery) took over ownership, and made heavy investments into the revival of the brand. Glenmorangie PLC in turn is owned by Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, who traditionally aim at customers with deep purses. Perhaps as a result of their involvement, prices unfortunately have been rising.
Ardbegs barley is peated/smoked to 50-55 PPM (parts per million; an indicator of the phenolic level), making it one of the most peated in the industry. Laphroiags, for instance, is at peated 40 PPM. Because of this, the fermentation process takes longer than at other distilleries, as due to the phenol, the yeast is not able to break down the sugars in the malt. The spirit still is equipped with a purifier, meant to capture heavier elements of the alcohol travelling up the necks of the still. This purifier is unique to Islay, and it is how Ardbeg manages to combine peat with fruity notes.
Since 1997, independent bottlers have not been allowed to purchase any of the distillery’s whisky, and thus all whiskies are sold off by the distillery itself.
The core range contains the following:
- Ten Years old.
- Uigedail (Oog-a-dal); matured in Sherry casks.
- Corryvreckan; matured in new French Oak barrels.
- Supernova; heavily peated to over 100 ppm.
- Blasda; lightly peated, at 8 ppm.
|Water source||Loch Uigeadail|
|Owned by||Glenmorangie PLC|
+44 (0) 1496 302244
|Community||The Ardbeg Committee|
|Mash tun||4.5 tonnes||1|
|Washback||23,500 litres||6 (Oregon pine)|
|Wash still||washstill_c litres||1|
|Spirit Still||spiritstill_c litres||1|
|Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)||1,100,000|