Step back in time... The rise & fall & rise of Ardbeg
There have been many ups and downs on the long road to Ardbeg throughout the years.
Ardbeg's story is one of irrepressible spirit surviving against the odds, finally emerging as "unquestionably, the greatest distillery on Earth".
One-of-a-kind 1975 cask sells for record £16 million
An extraordinary milestone in Ardbeg’s 200-year history, Ardbeg 'Cask No. 3’ is the oldest ever released by Ardbeg. To recognise the contribution generations of Distillery workers made to produce and protect it, £1 million is donated to community causes and projects on Islay.
Two becomes four
Ardbeg's new stillhouse is completed in March 2021 – doubling capacity from two stills to four.
Ardbeg bids farewell to Micky Heads and welcomes successor, Colin Gordon
After 13 whisky-filled years at the helm, Micky Heads retires and passes the hydrometer and high-vis jacket over to Colin Gordon, Ardbeg's new Distillery Manager.
Batch 1 of Ardbeg Traigh Bhan launches
Inspired by the heavenly vista of Traigh Bahn, an impossibly balanced small-batch 19-year-old is released.
200 years of Ardbeg
Instead of looking backwards for Ardbeg’s bicentenary, we looked 200 years into the future. Ardbeg Perpetuum launched.
The Ardbeg space experiment comes home
The world’s first whisky experiment in space touched down in Kazakhstan, on 12th September 2014. The answers to the mysteries of maturation and the universe were imminent. Ardbeg Supernova 2014 took off. PLUS the world limbered up and partook in the Ardbeggian take on the football world cup for Ardbeg Day. Ardbeg Auriverdes launched.
Galileo - watch this space
To celebrate our ongoing and historic space experiment, we launch Ardbeg Galileo. 60,000 bottles sell out within 48 hours. PLUS we celebrated the first ever Ardbeg Day by holding not the Olympics, but the ‘Islay-limpics’.
The tale of the 'Islay-Gator'
Alligator char’ American Oak casks and a smoky, spicy flavour ensure Ardbeg Alligator is snapped up by the Committee. PLUS Ardbeg conducts the first whisky experiment in space on the International Space Station.
Three times a winner
World Whisky of the Year again
Ardbeg Uigeadail scoops the World Whisky of the Year honour in the 2009 – the second time for Ardbeg. PLUS: 3,000 bottles of Ardbeg Supernova, the peatiest Ardbeg ever are snapped up in record time. Ardbeg Corryvreckan joins the core range on worldwide release.
World Whisky of the Year
Ardbeg Ten Years Old wins World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s 2008 Whisky Bible – a big achievement indeed. PLUS: Ardbeg Renaissance completes the peaty path to maturity. Ardbeg Corryvreckan is released to the Committee. Lightly peated Ardbeg Blasda – Gaelic for 'sweet and delicious' – is launched.
A serendipitous year
Ardbeg is established as part of the House of Glenmorangie within Moet Hennessy/LVMH. Production reaches 1 million litres. PLUS someone pulls the wrong lever and mixes Ardbeg with a small quantity of Glen Moray. Disaster is averted with the unbranded release of Serendipity (pity to waste it).
Ardbeg Ten Years Old and Ardbeg Committee launches
The extraordinary balance of peaty power and floral sweetness makes it a big hit and the core expression in the Ardbeg range. PLUS the worldwide Ardbeg Committee is formed to ensure ‘the doors of the Distillery never close again’.
Ardbeg is voted Distillery of the Year
The Visitor Centre and Old Kiln Cafe open, attracting 3,500 visitors. It’s a remarkable turnaround in only 12 short months. PLUS Ardbeg 1975 launches.
The Glenmorangie Company purchases the distillery
After the second closure in 1991, the Distillery reopens in 1997. Full-time production commences, with the first bottlings comprising 17 Years Old, 1978 Vintage and Ardbeg Provenance.
Allied Lyons acquires Hiram Walker and therefore Ardbeg
Two years later, small-scale distilling resumes to satisfy demand for Ardbeg from blenders.
Production dwindles to nothing
The distillery closes with the loss of 18 jobs and a devastating effect on the local community.
Hiram Walker acquires Ardbeg
Alexander Macdougall & Co Ltd buys Ardbeg for £19,000
The name 'Ardbeg' is registered as a trademark
The distinctive letter ‘A’ is also registered to protect Ardbeg’s brand and reputation.
Output tops 1.1 million litres a year
In his book ‘The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom’, Alfred Barnard records that Ardbeg is producing 250,000 gallons (1.1 million litres) of whisky a year, making it the most productive distillery on Islay.
A new owner
Thomas Buchanan, a Glasgow spirit merchant, buys the Distillery for £1,800. John Macdougall’s son Alexander continues to manage operations.
Ardbeg distillery is founded
John Macdougall takes out a licence, establishing Ardbeg Distillery as a legitimate commercial concern.