Ardbeg Heavy Vapours Ballot

by WhiskyBrother Marc

Islay's annual festival of malt and music, Fèis Ìle, begins this week where each day a different Islay distillery has its day in the spotlight to celebrate. This year Ardbeg Day falls on Saturday, 3 June and along with it comes the distillery's annual limited release to mark the occasion.

In what has become our tried and trusted method for equitable distribution of limited releases, we are running a ballot again this year. (If this is your first time encountering our ballot system, please scroll down to the bottom for more information.)

Ardbeg Heavy Vapours Banner


This year the release is Ardbeg Heavy Vapours; the story being that the spirit was distilled without a purifier, which will create a more robust and heavier Ardbeg spirit. The intentional experiment by Dr Bill Lumsden was apparently conducted around 2011, giving us an idea of the age of this new release (at least for a portion of the whisky).

Purifiers, which are only used at a handful of Scotch distilleries, are copper pots positioned on the underside of the lyne arm, between the still and the condenser. It allows a proportion of the heavier vapours that have risen up the still to fall into the purifier pot as they traverse the lyne arm, recondensing them back into liquid and returning them to the still for redistillation. This in essence increases the proportion of reflux on heavier vapours, and in Ardbeg's case allows for a heavily peated spirit that is still lighter in style. Purifiers have been used at Ardbeg as far back as their records go.

Unfortunately, there is again no mention at all of the type of casks used for maturation, so we can safely assume ex-American oak, likely first and second-fill as is predominantly used at the distillery.

Whisky Ardbeg Heavy Vapours
ABV and Volume 46%, 750ml
Retail Price R2,700

The release also ties-in with Ardbeg's Planet Ardbeg campaign currently underway, a graphic novel conceived by award-winning New York cartoonist Ronald Wimberly in collaboration with fellow artists Emma Ríos and Sanford Greene. Using Ardbeg’s core range as their creative launchpad they have produced "an anthology of otherworldly tales".

Ardbeg Heavy Vapours Bottle and Box


Nose: Smoke with a cloying sweetness. Intense, pungent and aromatic, a distinctive farmyard scent along with creosote. Water brings dark chocolate with smoked artichoke.

Palate: Bittersweetness with ashy coal dust and cardamom, peppermint and coffee grounds. Dark chocolate and mentholic eucalyptus with aniseed, cinnamon balls and antiseptic lozenges.

Finish: The aftertaste lingers long and bold, with an almost numbing sensation.


Please enter your details below in order to stand a chance to be able to purchase a bottle of Ardbeg Heavy Vapours. We will randomly draw as many customers as we have bottles available, with each successful customer receiving an email which will enable the purchase of a single bottle.



The pricing for this year's release is in line with the UK retail price of £120 (in fact, at the current and near record-low exchange rate it is slightly less). Last year's Ardcore release retailed at R2,500, which marked a change for local fans, as prior to this, the annual releases were priced lower in SA compared to the rest of the world.

Terms & Conditions

  • Only email addresses submitted that are subscribed to our newsletter will be eligible
  • By entering this ballot you agree to receive future communication from WhiskyBrother&Co
  • The ballot will close for entries on Sunday 4th June at midnight
  • Only ballot winners will be contacted (if you do not receive an email from us with instructions to purchase, then you are not a ballot winner)
  • Winners will be contacted via email by midnight on Wednesday 7th June
  • Winners must complete their purchase by midnight on Sunday 11th June


A ballot system is the new international method of choice for retailers facing the challenge of very limited supply with incredibly high demand.

We are fortunate and thankful that after 10 years of trading we have a sizeable customer base across our beautiful country. Some customers may only buy once a year, while others buy weekly, all with varying budgets. We appreciate them all, and any measure to determine who "deserves" to purchase will be flawed and will leave some customers with a bitter taste in their mouths.

A ballot leaves everything to chance and gives all customers sufficient time to enter: You register your interest, we have an impartial third-party randomly select names, and those individuals then have the opportunity to purchase a bottle. (Please note we do not contact unsuccessful ballot entrants.)

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