Scottish single malt whisky
The Ardbeg distillery is not as well known as some of the other distilleries on Islay (e.g. Bownore or Laphroaig), but it should not be overlooked.
Whisky was being produced at the Ardbeg site as early as 1798, but production on a commercial scale didn’t start until 1815 when the MacDougall family established themselves there.
The production has been closed down for a couple of years at at time over the last few centuries and the latest break ending in 1989 makes finding aged Ardbeg difficult (not to mention expensive). The ten year old single malt bottled by the distillery is becoming widely available, and while young and pale it is still a formidable whisky.
The production methods used at Arbeg are very conservative: Not much has changed since the start, and many steps in the process are performed manually. Ardbeg is also one of the few distilleries that malt their own barley on the floor.
Since Ardbeg has been my favorite distillery for the last ten years or so, I have tried to get my hands on their single malt in any version available and there has been a lot of them around. What they all have in common is a richness and smokiness similar to other Island malts, but usually without the roughness that sometimes goes with it. The smell, even in the younger bottlings, is full and somewhat peaty. If you like Islay whisky, you must try Ardbeg.