It's hard to believe it is already that time of year again, where we take time out of our busy, whisky-dreaming schedules to celebrate one of our favourite Islay distilleries. Ardbeg Day 2019 falls on the 1st of June this year, coinciding with the distillery's open day during Feis Ile, the Islay Festival of Music and Malt.
This year is actually the 8th year that Ardeg Day is a global event, extending it's reach beyond just that little isle off the west coast of Scotland. Although the global size and reach of the event has grown massively, the reason has not: A worldwide celebration of all things Ardbeg, in an effort to ensure the distillery's bright future and keep it producing excellent whisky for peat-lovers worldwide. (A quick reminder: The distillery was closed for most of the 1980s and produced only limited quantities in the 1990s.)
In what is now the standard Ardbeg approach, each year is themed, by drawing inspiration from the island, it's people and/or Ardbeg's history. This year's theme is Carnival and promises to be a rumbustious get-together with an Ardbeggian twist. According to Islay history, on the last day of the early Feis Ile festivals (the festival dates back in some form to 1984, whereas the distilleries only started getting involved in 2001), locals would decorate everything, from harvesters to hatchbacks, turning them into floats to hold a carnival day.
Every year, a limited edition Ardbeg is released on the day, made available only at the distillery and Ardbeg Embassies (carefully selected whisky shops, bars, venues). This year's release is Ardbeg Drum, and for this bottling, director of distilling, whisky creation and whisky stocks, Dr Bill Lumsden, has taken Ardbeg that was first matured in ex-bourbon casks and then "rested it a while" in ex-rum casks.
The choice of the word resting is curious, as it has certainly been intentionally used in place of finished, which is a much more common term in the world of whisky. Whether this is indicative that a standard finishing, as we generally understand it, has not been followed, we'll never know, as the distillery is always vague about the exact details of the Ardbeg Day releases- unfortunately. Then again, as long as the whisky is good drinking, does it really matter. (Well yes, yes it does, but moving along swiftly...)
On June 1st, both our store and our bar will have Ardbeg Drum available for purchase (R1,250), strictly limited to 1 bottle per person, while stocks last! And to be clear: stocks won't last. Every year we ask (and pray to the whiskygods) for a bigger allocation of the limited release, but to be honest, this year we have the smallest allocation we have ever had- only 60 bottles (half compared to last year!). We can only assume this means sales of the standard Ardbeg range in South Africa are down (again), and thus South Africa's allocation of the limited release is down too. So please make sure this Ardbeg Day you buy a standard Ardbeg 10yo (which we will have on promotion); it's your duty as an Ardbeg fan!
To celebrate Ardbeg Day on Saturday, June 1st, we will be holding festivities at our whisky bar for an extended 12 hour day (11am to 11pm). Join us throughout the day for:
- Ardbeg cocktails (R65)
- The limited release Ardbeg Drum (R80 per 25ml)
- Three different Ardbeg mini-tastings:
- Flight 1 | Ardbeg 10yo, Correyvreckan, Drum (R150)
- Flight 2 | Ardbeg 10yo, An Oa, Corry, Uigie, Drum (R300)
- Flight 3 | Ardbeg 10yo, Perpetuum, Grooves, Drum (R450)
- Ardbeg cupcakes (R30)
- General Carnival fun!
Bookings are not required, but if you are planning on coming, it's best to book to ensure you don't have to wait around.