Ardbeg Rollercoaster Review

Ardbeg Rollercoaster

As Ardbeg Rollercoaster is about to go on sale in an hour or so (Monday, 9am), we give you a line or two of very subjective review. Euan Martin and Chris Hoban sampled the whisky on Thursday and came up with their own tasting notes and opinions without consulting each other on the night!


Euan: Firstly, big thank you to Mike from the Water of Life Society for the invite to the preview tasting. I (unlike Chris ‘Mr. Responsible’ Hoban) went for all six Ardbegs on offer during the evening, so by the time we got to the Rollercoaster my taste buds were, well and truly warmed up. Whilst Chris wanted to go in with a fresh palate, I thought it would be better to view Rollercoaster within the context of the range. So after the New Make, the 10 year old, Blasda, Uigeadail, and Corryvreckan it was time for the big one. The new Ardbeg. The most written about distillery in Scotland. Limited release. True collector’s item. Sure fire bet to sell out. But is it any good for drinking?

On the nose

Euan: Smoked fish got me straight away. Smoked and peppered cold mackerel in particular. There is surprising spice in here – cumin stood out, along with the pepper. A slightly stale multi-grain loaf (that’s a fine pretentious tasting note there).  Mint as well – if you have ever been chewing gum to the point where it as almost lost its’ flavour, that was what I got here.

Chris: Nettles, bbq smoke, cloves and then a lingering sweetness of green apple, honey, mint and bananas. Maybe a slight hint of white chocolate too.

On the palate

Euan: When it came to drinking time I got a remarkable burst of vanilla, not something I would usually associate with Ardbeg. The smoke came along in the shape of burnt toffee, there was a faint seaweed hint as well. Despite being a cask strength, the alcohol was very faint. On the finish, I got a Lagavulin-esque tar and lingering chilli. Water destroyed it, I wish I hadn’t bothered. Thankfully I got a little top up later on to amend this mistake.

Chris: Oakiness, leather, slight sweetness and apples. Peppers, mint and nuttiness. Unbelievable finish; Coal fire, tabasco sauce, spicy and rich.


Euan: Overall impressions? It’s a good whisky, obviously the casks have been chosen well. At the end of the night I was certain I would attempt to buy one on Monday. But in the harsh light of day, I’m not so sure. I think that perhaps I over-hyped Rollercoaster in my head, having been slightly disappointed by Ardbeg’s previous two releases (Supernova and Corryvreckan) and so when it didn’t blow my socks up there was an inevitable feeling of being let down. But that’s my problem – anyone who chooses to part with £50 on Monday and is a fan of Ardbeg is very unlikely to be disappointed.

Chris: Corryvreckan’s bigger brother. Rich and long finish seals a tasty wee dram. The unfortunate thing for this whisky is that Ardbeg have such high standards that it doesn’t beat Uigeadail or the Ten. Better than Corryvreckan though.


  1. On a side note Davinia told me that this is a release on 15,000

  2. Can someone explain to me how they can get 15,000 bottles from 10 casks? There must have been a mistake.

  3. Unless they used more than one of each of the cask types…

  4. it’s probably 18 casks that would yield ~5k bottles.. but ofcourse they can double (or triple) that recipe too.

  5. Yeah i presumed it was one from each year but its obviously several (I asked her on thursday how many and thats what she told me) also according to ardbeg project (not looked myself) there stating 15k as well.
    P.S has anyone actually been able to get through ardbegs website, I can only get wee glimpses before the next page fails and I have to try again!! lol

  6. Ardbeg website R.I.P.

  7. Interesting opinions guys. Wanted to like this more than I did, but compared to the other Committee releases, we felt it didn’t measure up.

    more notes here:



  8. The whole situation is ridicolous…
    I tried all day long to buy my bottle and they get the server down, and in the meantime took order by phone…Very unfair!!!As a long time committee memeber i feel really really upset…

  9. I got through a wee while ago 21:00 but it took ages.

  10. [...] Here’s what the Edinburgh Whiksy Blog guys had to say… [...]

  11. I understand that the website crash was beyond Ardbeg’s control but I have to agree with Paolo, to start selling over the phone meaning that many non UK committee members may lose out is very unfair. I also feel that Ardbeg are now balancing on a very fine line between offering limited bottlings to committee members and ripping them off. How many bottlings can they release that don’t have an age statement and in my opinion come nowhere near the quality of the standard range? Bruichladdich anyone……….

  12. I am sure all the Ardbeg team will be a bit gutted.

    All the marketing, all the hype. Not to forget the work put into the liquid. Lots of hardwork put in and they had it, again. Ardbeg fever. People inundating forums, blogs and websites in excitement. As Davinia put it the other night ‘Ardbeg is like a rock star’ and they truly are.

    But the logistics let them down. The commitee membership went through the roof, people ready and waiting for Monday 9am to buy Rollercoaster. And then the website crashed. Noooo! Loyal commitee members for many years now feel hurt because they couldn’t get their hands on their bottling. Too much success can cause the bubble to burst if its not managed correctly.

    For me, I don’t think it is a sign of the bubble about to burst. Ardbeg just need to sort out the logistics. This is a sign of growing pains.

    Organise several trusted retailers with good websites and let them sell the Limited bottlings. It could still be commitee only bottlings. This would allow a better chance for everyone to get hands on their precious Ardbeg.

    I noticed that there will be so called ‘Ardbeg Outposts’ worldwide where Commitee members can buy this bottling. The Outpost information come out March 1st. Does that mean it will be sold to the public? Or do these outposts have to take commitee membership details before selling?

  13. The website (shop) was awfully slow but somehow I was able to get my order processed. Two beauties are now on their way to rugged North (aka Finland)! Slainte.

  14. To be honest looking at the way the situation has evolved with Ardbeg duringlast 3 years, I’d prefer to pay a committee membership (maybe also an annual fee)and have 1-2 dedicated bottlings a year to buy.So real fan would have the chance to have something “special”.If there’re 300000 committee members in the world and everyone con subscribe free at any timewhat’s now the point in having a committee bottling?It’s like to have a 1 million bottles from 1 cask,maybe I’m wrong but personally I liked the times when one and then a single cask appeared on the ardbeg website(at decent price) and really you had to pay visit often in order to became aware of that.If you sell a committee bottling and in the meantime with 1 click you instantly became a committee member I do not see the point anymore in having such bottles.Maybe it worked 6-7 years ago when the hype was low but now…

  15. It is all just marketing, but lets not forget the distillery was almost lost just a few years ago so if they have to put out lots of mediocre stuff to keep interest and protect the future of the good bottlings then we shouldn’t complain. It also helps them get a feel for what the market wants. No doubt Ebay will do a roaring trade as it has in the past on the back of previous releases. I just hope they’re keeping plenty aside to age gracefully into the future 74,75 and 77′s!!!

  16. Thanks for the review.
    I heard about this release just a few days ago and was very curious… sounds like my type of whisky with all those smoke flavors.
    The marketing reminds me of Regional Editions from Habanos SA. Not sure if I’ll bite.

  17. Anybody got a definitive answer to how many bottles were made? I know two people in the industry who spoke to the folk at Ardbeg, one got told 15000, the other 30000! think its a ploy to keep folks guessing. Anyway, given that its not sold out I’m guessing the latter. either that or they’ve turned an awful lot of people off the brand. Even Royal Mile are being critical on their site. Don’t think too much criticism’s fair though, I mean look at the looney number of wierd bottlings Bruichladdich are putting out

  18. I will browse more of what you’ve post on your blog , keep up the good job .

  19. Once again I spending my time both reading and commenting onquality blogs .

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