Ardbeg Whisky has been made on the isle of Islay, off the coast of Scotland, since 1815. Every bottle they make captures the raw, wild spirit of the island, and they boast of their whiskey as being “as close to perfection as makes no difference.” And so, as unabashed lovers of Scotch whisky, we had to try a bottle.
First, a bit of history. Ardbeg was, as mentioned, founded in 1815 by John MacDougall, on the isle of Islay. The name actually does not derive from the world “island”, as you were wondering. By 1887, it was producing over 1 million liters of whisky a year. The distillery passed through many hands throughout the years, before being practically closed in the late 20th century. By the year 2000, however, Ardbeg was back open and producing over 600,000 liters per year, and since then they have gone on to win dozens of awards and was named World Whisky of the Year three years in a row.
But enough history, you say. Let’s try some whisky.
Ardbeg Ten Years Old is Ardbeg’s flagship spirit, winner of their first World Whiskey of the Year in 2008. Known for its strong peat and smoky flavor, it’s as classic a Scotch as you can get. Ardbeg boasts of its complexity, but that complexity never gets in the way of all malty flavors.
On the nose, you will immediately notice the peat, and then maybe pick up the hints of lemon, lime and overall fruity notes. The Ardbeg says there is bold menthol and black pepper but didn’t catch it. The smoky flavor, on the other hand, is unmistakable, and the definition of a smoky Scotch; which is why you’re here, after all.
The palate starts out soft, but then you’re hit with lots of peat and lots of spice. Lots of peat. Again, this is what a bold Scotch is supposed to taste like. Ardbeg says to watch for the espresso, but we’re still enjoying the peat and cinnamon spice.
Finish? Long and easy, with plenty of smoke and bit of nuts and spice. It’s a well-rounded spirit that’s easy to drink and satisfying, but still every bit a Scotch. And if you like peat, we promise you won’t be disappointed. Oh, and it’s a solid 46% ABV, non-chill filtered.
Our other selected favorites from Ardbeg’s lineup include Ardbeg Uigeadail, which was named World Whisky of the Year in 2009, and Ardbeg Kildaton, a limited release made to celebrate Islay’s Celtic heritage.
So help yourself to a bottle of Ardbeg; we’re big fans, and plan on stocking this one in the liquor cabinet from now. Cue the bagpipes.