Musings about Ardbeg and the future

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Musings about Ardbeg and the future

Postby Jan » Wed Dec 28, 2005 2:06 pm

I have with great interest read accounts of what’s happening at Ardbeg in regard to cask selection, peating levels etc. I’m a bit dismayed, as it seems a few of the current standard bottlings, (which I like very much) are becoming very endangered species.

I know that the 17yo was special due to the mix of Kildalton unpeated Ardbeg and the fact that it did include older casks, so this will probably not be possible to repeat – which is a shame, I think. As far as I know, Ardbeg currently distills to an uniform (high) peating level – But could there be the occasional lowpeated batch being made – or are lowpeated Ardbeg gone for the foreseeable future - does anybody know ?

I have read that Ardbeg these days are exclusively aged in ex-bourbon casks – with only the very odd sherry cask filled. Bourbon casks is probably right for the core expressions, but this would make it impossible to produce interesting variations like Uigeadail in the future – again I think this is too bad, as I really like the Uigeadail a lot.

Of course the two above mentioned expressions were vatted in an attempt to fill the gap in stock left after the closed years 1981-1989 and it could very well be that styles as these two, are not at all a part of the current owners longterm strategy. Has anybody heard anything about what core expressions Ardbeg is aiming for in the future, when sufficient stock is available ?

As far as I know, destillation took place in the years 1990 – 1996, albeit mostly to cover contractual obligations to blenders and surplus stock is currently used in Ardbeg Ten. But would this not mean that it would soon be possible to launch an older standard expression, if stock levels allow it ?


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Postby Tom » Wed Dec 28, 2005 2:37 pm

Good points Jan, and often I am afraid too about the matter.
However, given what Stuart Thompson has done so far I am not too worried about the future of Ardbeg. He is one of those managers I tend to trust no matter what. After sampling both of his manager drams I must conclude that the man knows what he's doing. Thus I'm sure he will come up with new stellar bottlings and although the new Ardbeg will undoubtebly taste different, the quality will most likely be high. This being said, lets offer a wee bit more faith in distilleries instead of undermining them before we know what we're talking about. Their VY is promising isn't it?

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Postby Jan » Wed Dec 28, 2005 2:48 pm

Hi Tom

I did not mean to undermine Stuart Thompsons efforts - I'm sure that future Ardbegs will be excellent and I look very much forward to tasting them when they arrive.

But especially the 17yo has been a long time favourite of mine and I would dearly like to see a similar expression at some future point.

(And yes VY is good and quite promising.) :)


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Postby hpulley » Wed Dec 28, 2005 2:57 pm

I'm told they are doing some low peated 'K' runs these days but I don't know if they are destined for future 17yo or Kildalton bottlings or just for blending. Stuart hasn't let on and may not know. He just manages the distillery; I assume there are higher ups who decide what to bottle and what to blend.


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Postby Jan » Thu Dec 29, 2005 10:31 am

hpulley wrote:I'm told they are doing some low peated 'K' runs these days but I don't know if they are destined for future 17yo or Kildalton bottlings or just for blending.

Harry, that's good news. Even if these runs are not meant for the 17yo, it at least leaves a possibility of more variations than the core expressions.


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Postby Spirit of Islay » Thu Dec 29, 2005 6:33 pm

Hi Guys ,
Isn't it funny how everyone worries about the future releases and whats going to happen with Ardbeg when they don't seem to worry about other Surrounding distilleries . After all Laphroaig seems to be wandering around aimlessly (and managerlessly there such a word ?) , their core expressions apart from the recently released quarter cask have been stuck the same for a few years ( 10, 10CS , 15 and 30 ) with the occassional special (40 , feis ile bottling , odd committee one) . Lagavulin have been on the same "Classic" bottlings ( 16yo , 16DE ) with the 12LE and 25yo making appearances from year to year .
Now compare this to the releases since Glenmorangie re-opened it (i'll not count the VOA as this was technically an allied bottling )...
17yo , Provenance , 1975 , 1978 , 1977 , TEN , LOTI , Uigeadail , AVY , there's also the TENCS and 1990 which were mainly for Japan but the 1990 also sold at the Old Kiln . Then there were the Committee and feis Ile releases ( most were single cask but the Committee Reserve , Very young and Kildalton were larger volumes ) . Not bad for a place that inherited a stock that was to cover "contractual obligations to blenders " :wink:
Are we expecting too much from the Big A ? To me they've blew the competition away since 1997 and long may they continue .

I'm Glad Harry got in with the "he's only the manager" line as i had to use it only last week when someone said Stuart was setting the cost of the bottlings too high .......

I'm glad Ardbeg are using mainly ex-bourbon as it shows the whisky off to it's best and i hope they never go down the road of putting / finishing in other casks . I've had a discussion with Stuart about this and we both came to the conclussion that only ex-rum does the spirit any justice (we were drinking the OMC rum finished Ardbeg , he even gave a tip of putting a drop rum into a glass of TEN ) . As for what releases in the future , who knows ? As stated in other postings I'm really looking forward to the Glenmo distilled 10yo , the "Young" has been a revelation .
I'm hoping we'll see more Vintages of the 90's as the 1990 was superb .
It's been a hell of a journey since the re-opening and long may it continue with the Thomsons at the helm of the Distillery !

Have i been rabbiting again ?

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Postby Scotchio » Sat Dec 31, 2005 11:49 am

With regard to the current bottlings I picked up the 10 year old in December and was shocked by the very toffeeish nature of the malt. 5 years ago it was my favourite whisky but I dont remember all that toffee. The new bottle is nothing like as complex or balanced as the stuff I remember. Is this my memory playing tricks or has Ardbeg 10 changed. I had a break from whisky so I havent been sampling continuously and I dont have notes from 5 years ago but I remember a balance of peat, fruit and coconut, light and clear and none of this murky toffee.

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Postby lucabeer » Sun Jan 08, 2006 5:25 pm

I am a big fan of Ardbeg, not only the old ones (the few I have tried) but also the recent younger bottlings.

That said, I think it would be a shame if they decided not to mature some of their actual production in sherry casks. The Uigeadail proves that some sherry can actually bring a great lot if interesting notes, and a 27yo DL OMC Ardbeg matured in sherry that I had two years ago was absolutely stunning (though very woody).

It's true that bourbon wood shows the true taste of the spirit, but sometimes peat and sherry can be a wonderful combination: sure, it can be an awful one, but with some luck and the right casks you can get some unexpected gems (like the 1974 Laphroaig, although it tastes very little of Laphroaig).

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