Ardbeg Day – The Whisky

Released 2 June 2012, 56.7% ABV

To set the scene for these next few posts, each year during the Feis Ile festivities on the isle of Islay, Ardbeg have been known to release a special, limited production bottling to commemorate the celebrations.

Historically, these highly sought after bottles were only ever available to the dedicated Ardbeggians who queued up outside the distillery, but this changed in 2012. For the first time, Ardbeg made their famous Feis Ile bottling available worldwide via official ‘Ardbeg Embassies’ and coincided its release with the newly established Ardbeg Day.

What should one name the inaugural release? Ardbeg Day of course!

Ardbeg Day - Bottle

According to the label details, Ardbeg Day is a composition of two different expressions, finished in refill sherry casks (since said to have been ex-Uigeadail casks) and was bottled at a hefty 56.7% ABV. I’ve heard that it was limited to 12,000 bottles worldwide, but I’m yet to find any official documentation of that.

The bottle was released as bottle and swing tag only and was never presented in standard box packaging. The little swing tag booklet has some pretty quirky illustrations in it covering random historical events that ‘took place’ on the 2nd of June in years gone by

Ardbeg Day - Swing tag

There’s a sneaky footnote in the booklet though which read: ‘Ardbeg takes no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies, satisfied that the historical occurrences herein contain at least a grain of truth’.. cheeky! One we can rely on though is this

Ardbeg Day - Swing tag 2

The Ardbeg Day whisky was only available from 2 June 2012 through official Ardbeg Embassies and as you may have guessed, it sold out pretty quickly.

Ardbeg Day - Glass


Initially I found this to be quite vibrant and fresh – zesty peat right up front, some vanilla, perhaps a touch of ginger, molten sugar sweetness, some crisp hints of fruit and quite a wallop of a mineral/salty saline note. Overall, I’d describe this as quite a dry nose.


Really quite oily and viscous from the get go. Fiery, spicy and heavy on the zesty, earthy, saline peat notes right up front on the tongue. These seem to almost intensify, but I also get a hint of vanilla, some ashy coal and smoke. Not a whole of sweetness with this one, though it does show its head after a good half hour in the glass.


The peat and saline notes really intensified for me on the finish, resulting in a greatly satisfying, long, chest-warming finish. As the finish fades, still quite dry and spicy.


I found all of the aromas and flavours on both the nose and palate to be quite pointed, sharp and pronounced. To me, there’s nothing rounded or shy about this one. It tasted quite youthful, vibrant and bitey and I’d describe it as one of the more intense Ardbegs I’ve tasted.

My personal preference would be to tame this with a drop or two of water (and it seems to hold that amount of water quite well) though I do actually quite enjoy the drying intensity of it.

Two years down since its release and I still really enjoy this one, though I can’t confidently liken it to anything else that’s currently available in Ardbeg’s core range (as of 2014). It’s not totally dissimilar to Ardbeg Alligator, though that’s a bit of an unhelpful comparison as they both now command collector (as opposed to drinker) prices.

Very pleased to have been able to re-taste this one from a sample. Next up, the 2013 Ardbeg Day release – Ardbog.

New Ardbeg Supernova

Could it be? A new Ardbeg Supernova? It’s certainly looking that way.

The original 2009 and 2010 Ardbeg Supernovas are noted down in the history books as the peatiest Ardbegs ever released, peated to more than 100 part per million. That could very well change though, as it appears that Ardbeg is getting ready to launch an all new SN2014 release in the not too distant future. Supernova frontSupernova rear

Details are scarce, but if the labels are anything to go by, it looks like we could have a new SN2014 Supernova on our hands which will be bottled at 55% ABV. If that’s the case, it’ll be slightly down on both the SN2010 release (60.1% ABV) and SN2009 release (58.9% ABV).

However, there’s something interesting to note on the rear label, as it looks like there’s some sherry-matured stock in the new release. A beefed-up, peat-laden Uigeadail on steroids perhaps? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

No further details at this point, but label approval appears to have been granted in the US on 8 April 2014. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this one in no time! I can’t wait!

31 May is Ardbeg Day!

Around this time each year, a certain group of Ardbeg fans start to get restlessly excited as details of Ardbeg Day start to make their way into the inboxes of Committee Members, the Ardbeggians, all over the world.
Ardbeg Day - Trophy1

Our friends in Scotland have been celebrating Ardbeg and all things Islay for over a decade as part of their annual Islay Whisky Festival, Feis Ile (I’m determined to get there one day!)

Recognising that we all can’t make it to Islay, the folks at Ardbeg HQ wanted their loyal followers all over the world to be able to join in on the fun. So three short years ago, Ardbeg Day was proclaimed and has henceforth been celebrated the world over.

Ardbeg Day: The shenanigans

From 2012’s Islay-lympics, to last year’s archaeological themed Ardbog Day, the day’s celebrations have always amounted to copious amounts of peaty fun.

Sport. Football. circa 1961. Tottenham Hotspur's Bobby Smith, a burly centre forward who played in the "Double" winning side of 1960-1961, and was capped 15 times for England.

This year promises to be no different, with Ardbeg Day having a full World Cup theme, complete with interactive football events and plenty of Ardbeg on offer. Australia’s very own Ardbeg Day celebrations will take place in Sydney on Saturday 31 May at a yet-to-be disclosed location.

Save the date – 31 May is Ardbeg Day! 

How you can get involved 

Being part of the fun is easy. Simply head on over to the Ardbeg website and sign up to become a member of the Ardbeg Committee. This will help ensure you receive the latest updates on Ardbeg Day and all the details on how you can get involved. Did I mention it’s free?

Ardbeg Committee Pack

If that’s not incentive enough, you’ll also receive this great little welcome pack, complete with your own official welcome letter and membership number, a concertinaed booklet of Ardbeg’s history and a fun booklet of the committee’s rules and regs.

Ardbeg Welcome Letter

If you’re new to the world of peated whisky, don’t be afraid to get involved (like I once was). If you can appreciate a warming dram of Ardbeg and the company of fellow Ardbeggians, you’re bound to have a good time!

The whisky: Auriverdes

The day’s shenanigans are just half the fun though and there’s another (very good) reason us Ardbeggians get as excited as a kid at Christmas. You see, we will be among the first in the world to taste the latest Ardbeg release, Auriverdes, which will be officially launched on Ardbeg Day!

Said to be a whisky of two halves, Auriverdes has been matured in American Oak casks which have had their heads (the circle bits at the end) specially toasted and charred. This process is said to have imparted ‘a unique flavour profile of mocha coffee and creamy vanilla’. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty enticing to me! Ardbeg Auriverdes
With a name derived from the golden (auri) Ardbeg whisky and the iconic green (vedre) bottle, this year’s release sounds like it’ll be a good one. Keep an eye out for my take on Auriverdes in the near future.

If you can’t make it this year

Fear not! The official Ardbeg Day release, Auriverdes, will start to appear in specialty retailers around the country from 31 May and there’ll be a recap of the day’s events, on this very site, not long after.

Nicks Wine Merchants

Searching for whisky in Melbourne, Australia

On a recent trip to Melbourne, I finally made the short trek to a store that I’ve visited hundreds of times online – Nicks Wine Merchants.

You’ll find Nicks in Doncaster, around 19km (11 miles) east of Melbourne’s CBD in the same shop they’ve been in for over 50 years. Walk through the doors and it’s pretty hard to not get a little bit excited with this sight.

Nicks selection 1

Way better than browsing online! I’m pretty sure I stood there for a good 5 minutes with my mouth slightly agape.

Nicks selection

These photos probably show a third of what they had on their shelves – everything from Glenfiddich 12 year old to Highland Park 40 year old, Jim Beam white label to George T Stagg and hundreds of bottles in between.

They even have a really well-stocked tasting counter where they’ll happily let you try before you buy – and not just core range bottles either!

Nicks - tasting

Hang on a sec, what’s that Ardbeg lurking in the corner?

Nicks - Alligator lurking

That’s right, they even had a bottle of Ardbeg Alligator available to taste! It’s not every day someone offers you a free taste of Alligator.

Nicks - Ardbeg

I didn’t take down any tasting notes, but yes, it was a pretty nice one.  Would I pay current collector prices for a bottle though? No – as I’d want to open it and drink it and just don’t think I’d get three times the enjoyment of a lesser-priced Ardbeg… In saying that, it was pretty special drop and it would be a rather nice feeling to have one of these in your cabinet!

The staff at Nicks were genuinely knowledgeable about whisky (and all of the products they stock). We ended up talking about Glenmorangie Ealanta and The Whisky Bible phenomenon (Ealanta sat on shelves for a good six months in Australia before seemingly selling out over night following the whisky of the year announcement).

I hadn’t actually tried it, but they soon sorted that one out for me, kindly finding an open bottle out the back.

Nicks - Ealanta

Quite unlike any other Scotch whisky I’ve tried before – heavy on the bourbon notes and spice, but still unmistakably Glenmorangie. The small quantity of this that landed in Australia should have sold-out on taste alone – really quite enjoyable. Before you bombard their website – like everyone else, they’re sold out.

A big thanks to the friendly and knowledgeable staff for their time and for the good whisky banter. If you live in Melbourne – or you’re just passing through – Nicks is well worth a visit for any whisky or spirits fan.

News for Australian Glenmorangie & Ardbeg fans

Glenmorangie Companta

If you’re a Glenmorangie fan, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of their annual ‘Private Edition’ release. It all started with the highly-praised Sonnalta PX back in 2009, followed by Finealta and Artein. Then there was last year’s release, Ealanta, which was awarded whisky of the year by the author of the Whisky Bible, Jim Murray. The 2014 Private Edition release – Companta – has just gone on sale in both the UK and USA and is fast selling out by the looks of it.

From what I understand, approx. 60% of the whisky in Companta has been matured in ex-Grand Cru casks from Clos de Tart, with the remaining 40% coming from whisky that’s been matured in ex-Rasteau fortified wine casks from Cotes du Rhone.  These were then married together, producing the amazing crimson-amber hue seen in the photo below.


Source: Kevin Mackintosh for Glenmorangie

The Australian market missed out on the first few releases, but the folks at Moet-Hennessy (the Australian importers of Glenmorangie & Ardbeg) did bring Ealanta to our shores last year. Will we see Companta arrive this year?

No official confirmation from Moet-Hennessy at this stage, but I’ve heard from someone in the industry that Companta will be reaching our shores around April. Let’s hope they’re right, as I for one am really looking forward to trying it.

Ardbeg Auriverdes

This next one hasn’t been officially announced just yet, but someone did a little digging around online and managed to find these very curious front and rear labels for the new Ardbeg Auriverdes. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more about this one in the coming months!

Auriverdes frontAuriverdes rear

Along with the name (which I believe translates to ‘Gold and Green’), the wording and imagery on the label has lead many to speculate that Ardbeg’s latest has some association with the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.  Here in Australia, we’d like to think the green and gold reference has something to do with us – I somehow don’t think that’s the case though.

As with Companta, there’s no official confirmation from Moet-Hennessy just yet, but rumour has it we will see this expression in Australia around June. In time for Ardbeg Day 2014 perhaps? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to try both of these expressions!

ps. I always like to include my own photography in my posts, but until I’m able to get my hands on these gems, these stock images will just have to do! Isn’t Kevin Mackintosh’s photography magical!