It may not be as commonly popular as Johnnie Walker or Glenfiddich, but Ardbeg Scotch has a cult following, especially for for fans of peated scotch. Ardbeg, a distillery in the Islay region of Scotland, produces incredibly unique barrels of scotch. It sits in a row of distilleries including Lagavulin and Laphroaig, so Ardbeg is in great company on the island. Like it’s neighbor, this distillery offers strongly peated scotch for intense smoky, wooly flavors.
Ardbeg Scotch History
The first Ardbeg Distillery started producing blended scotch whisky in 1798. In 1815, while Laphroaig was opening up doors down the road, the Ardbeg brand was formally established by the MacDougall family. By the late 1800s, Ardbeg was producing over 10,000 barrels of blended scotch each year.
This production grew strong, and Ardbeg was a popular scotch for the next hundred years. But with recessions and changing tastes, the distillery was forced to stop production in 1981. This wouldn’t last the decade, though, and production spun up again and 1989. Business was up and down with spotty distribution through the 90s, but rescue was imminent. The Glenmorangie company foresaw an increase in demand for Islay Scotch, and purchased the Ardbeg brand and distillery in 1997.
Since then, Ardbeg has been producing stellar peated single malt scotch across age ranges, an their popularity has boomed. This includes a staggering demand for the limited bottlings pre-1997, that have seen outrageous secondary market prices.
See also: Game of Thrones Scotch Whisky Collection
Ardbeg has a host of fun, unique bottles and, frankly, you wouldn’t read through all the post if we listed them all out. But here’s a quick rundown of their flagships, and some more “popular” releases.
Ardbeg 10 Year Single Malt Scotch
The most common Ardbeg you’ll find on shelves in the United States is their 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch. This flagship is relavtively approachable, as far as peated Islay Scotch goes. It’s still going to be a kick of heat and smoke.
In 2008, Ardbeg 10 Year won World Whisky of Year, and it has been a hot number ever since. This whisky is pretty easy to find. It’s bottled at 92 Proof (46% ABV) and is non-chill filtered. For a heavily peated scotch like Ardbeg, this filtering leaves that potent peat smoke for a strong, ripe kick.
Ten years isn’t the oldest scotch, but this one promises a sweet maltiness that balances out the intense peat flavors flawlessly. If you want to dive into the deep end of peated scotch.
Ardbeg Scotch 10 Year Old Single Malt
Ardbeg An Oa Scotch
Ardbeg An Oa was first released in 2017. This scotch is a unique marriage of single malt scotches from several of Ardbeg’s cask stocks. The full recipe is a bit of a secret, but we know that some casks used include virgin charred oak, ex-bourbon casks, and sweet Pedro Ximenez. Single Malts come out of these barrels and swirl together in a vat together for a while in a marriage that is bold and pure.
Full of that Ardbeg peat, An Oa is a smoky and sweet dram of scotch that’s actually a bit more approachable, though still intense. It’s bottled at a pretty classic 93.2 Proof (46.6% ABV), Ardbed An Oa offers no age statement. Grab a bottle when you can.
Ardbeg “An Oa” Islay Single Malt
Corryvreckan is the name of the whirlpool that lies to the north of Islay, home of Ardbeg Distillery. The whisky is a high proof, high peat scotch that is a masterpiece whisky. Voted World’s Best Single Malt in 2010, Corryvreckan earns its name from a swirling whirlpool of complexity. Smoky peat, heavy malt, and a hot finish make Ardbeg Corryvreckan a force to be reckoned with.
Bottled at a cask-strength 114.2 Proof (57.1% ABV), Ardbeg Corryvreckan has been described as a punch in the face, in the best possible way.
Neither here nor there, but Ardbeg’s authenticity to its home and culture is wonderful branding, and the whisky does a great job making that seem natural.
Did I spell that right? Uigeadail is yet another award winner from Ardbeg. The heavy peat is here, as it is in all these Islay scotches, but that’s not all. Uigeadail takes the heavy peat found in the traditional Ardbeg barrels and marries it with a sherry cask version. The result is a rich, chewy, and smoky scotch full of dried fruit notes and spices.
To add extra oomph to the experience, Ardbeg Uigeadail is bottled at 108.4 Proof (54.2% ABV), cask-strength, higher than most scotches which are often proofed down. Like the Ten Year, this scotch is non-chill filtered.
How do you pronounce Uigeadail? That’s the million dollar question. According to the official Ardbeg website, the correct pronunciation of Uigeadail is “Oog-a-dal”, a reference to lake (loch) near the distillery.
Ardbeg Scotch Uigeadail
Ardbeg 5 Year Old Wee Beastie
A newer addition to the Ardbeg Single Malt Scotch lineup is Wee Beastie, a younger brother to the 10 Year expression. To some extent, this may just be youth for the sake of getting product to market more quickly. That may not be entirely fair, though. Often described as “feisty,” Ardbeg as branded this 5 year single malt scotch to own is young age.
Similar to Uigeadail, this Ardbeg Ultimate collection scotch uses some Oloroso Sherry casks for easier finishing. Wee Beastie also uses ex-bourbon casks, not uncommon among scotches. Because those casks are used, the 5 years allows for even less aging characteristics, so it doesn’t overpower the peated mash. The goal is to create a raw, smoky scotch that really highlights the harsh peat of Islay. So far, it’s been a success on the market. The younger age of Ardbeg Wee Beastie also makes for a more affordable scotch, to boot.
Ardbeg Wee Beastie is non-chill filtered and bottled at 94.8 Proof (47.4% ABV).
Ardbeg Wee Beastie
More Ardbeg Scotch Whiskies
Of course, there are a lot of great Ardbeg scotch whiskies besides the aforementioned expressions. If age is your thing, there are several bottles that follow the same processes as the classic 10 year with much longer aging… 17, 21, and even 25 year bottles. Ardbed Blaaack was a very fun limited release, but can be hard to find these days outside of the secondary markets. You can find a full comprehensive list of other limited Ardbeg Scotch releases on their website.
Ardbeg Scotch In North Carolina
Is Ardbeg Scotch available in North Carolina ABC Stores? You bet! It may be a bit hit or miss depending on what you’re looking for, but various bottles have been available in the state system for years. The following Ardbeg releases have been listed on the ABC Stock or Price lists in the last year and a half, so you may still be able to find them.
- Ardbeg 19Y GB 2020 Edition
- Ardbeg Uigeadail
- Ardbeg 10Y S.M.
- Ardbeg Corryvreckan
- Ardbeg An Oa
- Ardbeg 25Y GB
- Ardbeg Wee Beastie
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