The following originally appeared on Food Digital on May 31, 2013:
The Hebridean island of Islay, off Scotland’s southwest coast, is renowned for the peaty spirits her distilleries produce. The island is also known for Feis Ile (pronounced fesh-eel-a), a festival of music and whisky that runs for eight days towards the end of May and beginning of June.
Over the course of the eight days each of the island’s eight working distilleries opens it doors wide and heartily welcomes in the general public. There are special tastings, special bottle releases, and general merriment and mirth making. Just be sure to secure your accommodation a couple of years in advance if you don’t plan on pitching a tent in a nearby field (which doesn’t sound too bad, to be honest… if the weather holds).
The Ardbeg distillery, located on Islay’s south shore, last year made the decision to include the world in their Feis Ile open day celebrations. The first Ardbeg Day was held on Saturday, June 2 and saw the Islay-lympics being held across the globe. Including events like sheep tossing and bog snorkeling you can be sure Ardbeggians rose to the challenge no matter where in the world they found themselves. For the first time ever, the distillery’s Feis Ile special bottling was available for purchase from “Ardbeg Embassies” around the world.
Tomorrow, June 1, will be the second annual Ardbeg Day and, once again, there’s much merriment and mirth making to be had. At the distillery they’ll be digging about to see what’s underfoot, uncorking some collectable Ardbegs, enjoying an abundance of smoked fish, and celebrating the launch of Ardbog, 2013’s special bottling to commemorate Ardbeg Day.
On this side of the Atlantic, however, the distillery has been celebrated at Ardbog Day events held this week across the country. While some of the events have featured games that fit in with those being held at the distillery the focus has remained squarely on the special release, Ardbog.
A vatting of 10 year old bourbon matured Ardbeg and 10 year old Manzanilla sherry matured stock the whisky is deliciously briny with a combination of sweet and savory notes. Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distillation and Whisky Creation for both Glenmorangie and Ardbeg says:
“Every year we try to come up with something interesting and enticing for our Ardbeg fans, and we have for years laid down a range of experiments which may or may not see the light of day! Ardbog is one such experiment in that it combines two different styles of maturation to create a new flavour experience.”
The whisky is available across the US from tomorrow (although some retailers got an early jump on their competition this year). So far there’s a wide variance in the price from as low as $70 in some state controlled liquor stores up to $125 in stores that apparently enjoy printing money. Try not to spend more than $100 on your bottle.
Happy Ardbog Day!
You can read Jason’s full tasting notes for Ardbog on his blog.