Ardbeg Evangelist? Quite Divine.

There are certain distilleries we like a bit more than others. We recently criticised Jim Murray for just that and now we admit openly we do exactly the same. Never trust a blogger.

Some distilleries make great whisky, some hire nice people who successfully make friends with us, some have beautiful stories or great working ethics behind them. But to become one of our ‘pet-distilleries’ you need all of these elements and one more. Consistency. It’s not easy to please us and even harder to do so time and time again.

Now, Ardbeg is somewhat different – I thought to myself this morning – they failed us, they let us down big time by releasing an overpriced crowd-pleaser called Supernova, they didn’t stay true to their ethos by chill-filtering and seriously watering down Blasda. Now they released the Corryvreckan, a whisky we can’t understand, can’t comprehend, can’t learn to trust, can’t see as part of the range. For once we are lost for words and don’t seem to be able to write up anything at all. The sample bottle we received a month or so ago is slowly being drained, the tasting notes are getting longer but there is still no sign of any valid conclusions. Yet again we can’t wrap our heads around the price-to-quality ratio here.

But does it matter? Not really. We still truly love them. True love lasts lifetime.

Yesterday at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Leith I met Davinia Small, Ardbeg’s Brand Evangelist. She told me and my co-tasters all about the history and the present day of the distillery, all about their core range and the not-so-core bottlings. She told me all the things I already knew by heart. Was I bored? Never! Once again it proves that it’s not what is being said, but who is saying it and how, that truly matters.

Davinia is everything your dad or granddad would not want a Brand Ambassador to be. She’s young (booo), pretty (booo), female (big booo) and, above all, English. And amazing at her job!

If there is one person who could try and challenge her in a big Ardbeg Charm, Knowledge & Passion Taste-Off, it would be me. (Yes Martin, when I graduate in a few months you will have my CV in your inbox every morning… I can be quite a pest)

Now seriously. We had the best time with Davinia, thank you and well done.

We tried:

  • Ardbeg Ten
  • Ardbeg Blasda
  • Ardbeg Uigeadail
  • Ardbeg Corryvreckan

My winner of the tasting was Ardbeg Ten, I like the new batch immensely. It’s clean as a whistle, big, proud, honest and brutal. I would like to be that whisky (although with the above personal attributes it would be much more practical if I lived, say, 500 years ago).

Blasda grew on me recently and I no longer perceive it as blasphemy… a quirky addition to the range, a tool to a better understanding of Ardbeg’s spirit is more like it. Uigeadail is still mindblowingly good, brings back memories of a tasting with Rachel Barrie in Whiski Bar some time ago.

The responsibility for writing about the Corryvreckan I shed on Chris. Good luck, mate.


On a slightly different note, Ardbeg now cooperate with La Fromagerie in London and they match cheeses to their whisky. I had a chance to try those combos yesterday and I was well impressed. In fact I ate so much cheese, I felt quite sick on the bus home. I cured myself with pizza and Punk IPA eventually. 60% of the time it works every time.

Ardbeg Ten was matched with Chabichou, which is a goat cheese. It confirmed I don’t like goats’ milk in any form, but I could see where the match came from.

Blasda went with Isle of Mull Cheddar. Again a good match and this time I actually enjoyed it…

Uigeadail was paired with Parmigiano Reggiano. Now you may think this cheese is only used for sprinkling over pastas (as I did) but, and I was surprised to discover that, it tastes great on its own and even better with this sherried monster of a whisky. Favourite combo.

Corryvreckan went with Stichelton and it was quite weird to see how symbiotic a match it was. Good, powerful effect.

Try matching Ardbeg and cheese at home… if you dare!

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