Ardbeg is one of the most recognisable peated whiskies today. The distillery was instrumental in kickstarting the Islay revival when it reopened in the late 1990s.
Ardbeg was founded on the south-east coast in 1815 by the McDougall family. Port Ellen, Lagavulin and Laphroaig all neighbour the distillery on Islay’s iconic coastline. By 1835, Ardbeg was one of the largest distilleries on the island, producing around 2,300 litres per week.
It was owned by several local families before Distillers Company Ltd and Hiram Walker acquired majority shares in 1959. The distillery had their own floor maltings until the 1970s when demand increases necessitated the use of peated malt from neighbouring Port Ellen. Hiram Walker assumed full control of Ardbeg in 1979 until it closed in 1981. Production was intermittent from the distillery when it joined Allied Distillers in the late ’80s, but it was shuttered again in 1996.
Glenmorangie paid £7.7m for the run-down distillery in 1997, spending £1.4m on a much-needed restoration. Ardbeg has since become one of the most iconic Islay peated single malts. Glenmorangie released several stock products before their first 10-year-old bottling from the restored distillery was launched in 2008.
In 2018, plans for a larger still house and two additional stills were announced, bringing its total to four.
The distillery has released several high-profile bottlings including the five-year-old Wee Beastie, Scorch and the Supernova series to commemorate its project sending maturing whisky vials and charred oak into space. The exclusive Ardbeg Committee releases are often highly sought after.