- Pronunciation: ARD-begg
- Meaning: Little height
- Founded: 1815
- Region: Islay
- Status: Operational
- Owner: The Glenmorangie Company (Moet Hennessy)
- Production Capacity: 1,150,000 litres a year
The distillery was originally built by the MacDougall family in 1815 and flourished throughout the years until 1981 when the distillery was closed by the owner Hiram Walker (which later became Allied Distillers). Fortunately production resumed between the periods of 1989 and 1996, until it closed again prior to the purchase by The Glenmorangie Company in 1997 for £5.5 million
In 1997 and shortly after, under the new ownership Ardbeg immediately released a 17 Year Old followed by a number of vintages particularly from 1978. In November 1997, several months after the first new make spirit made by Glenmorangie Plc, Ardbeg released the first of their legendary Ardbeg Provenance bottlings, distilled in 1974 and bottled from 1997 through to 2000, these limited Ardbeg releases are amongst the most desirable of all Ardbeg's.
Various releases followed in these years with vintages from 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977. On the 4th February 2000 Ardbeg release their new 10 year old by another infamous Ardbeg, the Lord of the Isles. The Lord of the Isles was bottled as a 25 year old Ardbeg, released in an elegant coffin shaped box, it has become a very popular item at auction.
Over the millennium and into the 2000’s Ardbeg, following increased demand for Ardbeg. A decision was chosen to develop new young peaty whiskies and following clever marketing and a huge demand for peat, we were given the 'Peaty Path to Maturity'. The first release, Ardbeg Very Young was first released in July 2004, followed in March 2006 by the Still Young, February 2007 with Almost There and finally on April 30th we reach Ardbeg Renaissance. These bottles describe the journey to the new 10 year old Ardbeg. Once we had all completed the the path to peaty maturity Ardbeg released the Airgh Nam Beist, go back to the early 1990s this excellent Ardbeg is begining to attrach interest at auctions. In true Ardbeg fashion the Airgh Nam Beist did not last long and was replaced by a new Ardbeg, Ardbeg Blasda. The Blasda was different, it was 'chill filtered' it was bottled in a clear glass bottle and most of all it was considered to be 'lightly' peated....controversial!
Ardbeg's massive fan club began on the 1st January 2000 when the Ardbeg Committee was officially formed. There were many benefits to being a member of the Ardbeg Committee but the surely the most obvious one would be Committee releases. Over the years there have been many Committee releases from Ardbeg, only to members of the Ardbeg Committee and it all starts with two single cask 1976 Ardbeg's from Cask #2394 and #2392. This was closely followed by a committee bottling of Ardbeg 21 year old, producing only 2,500 bottles. We have seen many Ardbeg Committee releases, most of these are the more recent bottligns. However lets not forget the famous Ardbeg 1976 bottled for the Ardbeg Committee and Feis Ile 2002. A committee release was bottled virtually annually,including a suprise from Ardbeg, when they released the Ardbeg Kildalton in 2004. This committee release was distilled from 1980 and is in theory an 'unpeated' Ardbeg, creating a new dimension for Ardbeg. In 2005 we were given the Ardbeg Serendipity, which did become a wider release. 2006 the Committee received the 'Ardbeg Young Uigedail' a feisty whisky limited to only 1,392 bottles.
More recent releases from Ardbeg are substantially less limited and are very popular at Whisky Auctioneer, such as the Ardbeg Rollercoaster, Ardbeg Alligator, Ardbeg Supernova and Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Ardbeg Day .
A wonderful miniature pack was also released around the same time called the 'Ardbeg Peat Pack' which contains four miniautres including the award winning Ardbeg Uigedail, 10 year old, 17 year old and a miniature of Ardbeg Kildalton (from 1981).
The committee does serve a puropose and following these limited committee releases, there is a wider official release such as the Ardbeg Alligator Untamed Release, Ardbeg Supernove Stellar Release and Ardbeg Corryvreckan. The Ardbeg Galileo was an equally limited release from Ardbeg and the first for quite a few years to carry a vintage/age.
The first limited release of 2014 from Ardbeg, was the Ardbeg Auriverdes. Released on Ardbeg Day at the Feis Ile and at the Ardbeg Embassies on May 31st 2014 ,this will without a doubt going fly off the shelves in spectacular fashion. The Ardbeg Auriverdes has been matured in American oak casks with freshly toasted cask heads, as usual we don't know how many there will be but we are sure to see a bottle off this at auction not long after May 31st.
Heading towards 2015 and Ardbeg's 200th birthday, a big year for Ardbeg and we've already seen the Distillery Release of Ardbeg Perpetuum which is being followed on May 31st 2015 with the office Bicentenary Release the first of what is rumoured to be several new releases from Ardbeg to mark this big occasion.
One thing is certain, if it is from Ardbeg and limited it is popular for investors, traders and collectors!