Ardbeg is a Scotch whisky produced on the island Islay off the coast of Scotland. This region in particular is known for producing some of the most intensely peated whiskies in the world; with Ardbeg holding claiming to be the peatiest of all. While the majority of distillers use about 20 – 40ppm of peat for drying their barley; Ardbeg uses 50ppm for their standard 10 year and even more for their limited bottling. This allows for a truly unique spirit that cannot be duplicated. Ardbeg was initially established as a private distiller in the late 1790’s before going commercial with their spirit in 1815. In 1981 production halted due to lack of demand for a while, before being reopened for limited production in 1989. In 1997 the company was bought by Glemorangie and a year later the distillery was once again opened for full production. Since then Ardbeg has gone on to make a name for itself in the world of whisky. In 2008 in was named “Whisky of the Year” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. Ardbeg has also won 2 Gold Medals and 6 Silver between the years of 2006 and 2012 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Color: A very pale straw color that is on the cusp of being as clear as water. This is because there is absolutely no caramel coloring; and has achieved its natural hue from a brief period in American White Oak Casks.
Nose: Burnt marshmallows and vanilla, charred oak, slight ash and something almost vegetable like.
Body: Incredibly viscous and oily. The whisky completely coats your palate and stays for quite a long while.
Palate: As one would expect, TONS of peat in this bad boy. Next is a lot of salt, and I mean a lot of salt. You can taste on your lips. Then it takes an even more interesting turn; there is meatiness to it. It is almost like good quality salami. It’s a bit startling at first, but kind of keeps you coming back for more.
Finish: Again that oily saltiness is still lingering all on my lips and palate. So much so, you have to drink some water, because you feel parched from it. Then somewhere in the background there is a candied pineapple that subtly rounds it all out.
Well as you can tell, this is quite a unique whisky and is guaranteed not to be for everyone, especially the faint of heart. Maybe it is because I am not there yet; but I don’t know if I would consider this the best scotch in the world. It is definitely different don’t get me wrong; and I love to have a bottle on hand for those cold winter nights (the perfect whiskey for such occasions). I do enjoy the peat being so prominent; but I prefer my scotch to have fuller richness to them as well. Either way though, it is something that you have to try at least once in your life. You owe it to yourself to do something so bold.
*photo is not my own