Ardbeg’s Secrets

We are really lucky at EWB. We love our Whisky, we get paid to talk about it and we occasionally get invited to industry events to listen to people who know far more than us. Euan and I were at a tasting with Davinia Small from Ardbeg last month.

Industry events: How they can go wrong

I have been at a few events where the host knows little about their product (weird, I know). In this case, it doesn’t matter how warm they are, they can’t answer my questions, and thus it is a frustrating exercise. On the other hand, I have been at some events where any little insider knowledge is treated as classified information. The host will just reject questions that he or she doesn’t want to answer, in case their parent company goes mad at them. In this case, what is the point in inviting Whisky enthusiasts (Geeks, I am allowed to say that, as I am one) along? We have burning questions, we support your brand, so answer the questions.

Industry events: How they can go right

I think the most valuable thing about these industry events (if they go right) is the little bites of information, the little trinkets that you just do not get from a press release. The best kind of event is when you can feel the passion of the host. It’s not just that they know a lot, but they are willing to share this information with the enthusiasts. They are not selling their product just to make money; they have put a lot of effort into the product and believe what they are saying.

Ardbeg Tasting

I was mulling these thoughts over in my head at last months  Ardbeg Rollercoaster tasting with Davinia Small. I would like to state first, I thought it was an excellent tasting. Lots of passion, interesting theme (Ardbeg and the 7 wonders of Rock n Roll) and most importantly the trinkets. (Again thank you for the invitation from the Water of Life society)

This tasting was full of information I didn’t know about Ardbeg.  For those of you who can’t get to these sorts of events (Whisky live, the Whisky show, Whisky student group meetings) I took some notes. I hope you find them as interesting as I did.

  • Intention to have 100% maturation on Islay, currently sitting at about 80%.
  • 1st and 2nd fill  bourbon casks only (Rather than using older casks)
  • Older expressions from the 1970′s were from own malting. Now malted at Port Ellen malting
  • Liquid begins at 54 to 65ppm. Fermentation and Distillation takes it down to about 25-30ppm
  • Ardbeg Uigeadail was created due to advice from the late, great Whisky writer, Michael Jackson.  He wanted more from ‘Lord of the Isles’ . He suggested that he would like to experience a ‘dirtier, muckier expression of Ardbeg’
  • Ardbeg stills have a copper purifier. This is unique on Islay. It makes their spirit lighter – provides a balance of high peat notes with sweeter, fruitier characters.
  • Pot Stills tend to last 25 years. Ardbeg use an Ultrasound to test the quality and durability
  • Shortie (Ardbeg’s mascot) is 13 years old.
  • Ardbeg Corryvreckan uses a mixture of Bourbon matured Ardbeg and new French oak matured Ardbeg.


If anyone who is reading this has been to an interesting tasting or a particularly poor tasting, get in touch and tell us what you thought.


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