The first distillery we visited and toured while in Islay was Ardbeg. Out of all the distilleries in Islay, Ardbeg whisky is the peatiest. Their peat is peated to 50ppm (parts per million) and is sourced from Port Ellen. If you don’t like peat, then you will most certainly not like Ardbeg, but that shouldn’t stop you from wanting to know more about our tour, so lets begin.
Louis Vuitton now owns the distillery and it certainly explains why their campus is absolutely beautiful. Upon arrival you are greeted by a giant cooper still, which makes it clear that you are truly in the right place. As you make your way down the stairs, the visitor’s center as well as their Kiln cafe stands to the left. The cafe closed down for the season the day before our tour so we didn’t get a chance to try their food.
We got to our tour significantly early. While we waited to get started we took a chance to walk around the campus. See Slide show below.
At the start of our tour we got ushered to one of their buildings and the history of Ardbeg began. The tour then took us to where the wash is made and kept, followed by their stills, their spirit receiver and finally their warehouse.
The tour ends with a tasting. They have two small tasting rooms and are looking to hopefully expand those as they have outgrown the two spaces. In the tasting we had a chance to taste the following: Ardbeg 10 (their signature whisky); Uigeadail; Corryvreckan; Kelpie and An Oa.
Out of the whiskies we got to taste as part of the tour, the one I had not tasted was the An Oa. For this whisky they merge whiskies from several different casks to include, Pedro Ximenez, charred oak and ex-bourbon casks.
An Oa Tasting Notes
Nose: smoke, brine, toffee
Palate: cinnamon, nutmeg, wood, smoke
Finish: long with notes of sweetness
This whisky was relatively smooth and with the twist of sweet notes. There was elegance to it and it didn’t come right at you with bite. It’s different to the other Ardbeg’s I’ve tasted, as it is smooth and soft. I think it’s a great addition that any Ardbeg lover would enjoy. I definitely enjoy it!
After our tasting was over, we had a chance to linger a little bit and I am glad we did. As we looked around we were informed that if there was an Ardbeg whisky we had not tasted but wanted to, they would give us a wee try. Enter the best Ardbeg I have ever tasted:
Ardbeg 21 is a beautiful and sophisticated dram. The smoke notes are light as peat is not as pronounce with this older version. It was buttery with light notes of vanilla. You can also get the notes of spices and pepper. I was absolutely floored on how much I loved this whisky. Good luck finding a bottle and if you do, you will pay a hefty price for it. Price aside, the whisky is amazing and might be well worth it.
Overall the tour was fantastic. We enjoyed every minute we were there. If I could point to two things that I enjoyed the most those would be, the campus itself, as it’s gorgeous and tasting that 21 year Ardbeg. It’s something I will never forget.
I would definitely recommend going for a visit if you ever plan to visit Islay. The people there were truly amazing and will make sure your experience is unforgettable.
Note: The contents on my blog are solely my opinion. To me every palate is different! Although I may or may not like a product, I always recommend for people to try it and make up their own minds.