A new Ardbeg whisky always gets the whisky world swinging back and forth between equal measures of excitement, cynicism, anticipation and confliction. There can be no doubt that this small distillery on the south-east coast of Islay has produced more than its fair share of world-beating drams. It is largely this fact that has solidified the Ardbeg reputation, making it one of the most loved, and hyped, of all Scottish distilleries. Old bottlings and young single casks change hands for obscene sums, while any truly limited or unusual releases are feverishly horded for future drinking or speculation.
In recent times Ardbeg has been characterised by a string of non-age-statement bottlings, often featuring some of the Glenmorangie Company’s typically modern wood experimentations. Most have garnered high praise from many commentators, but there are still some that would wish to see more transparent “natural” bottlings (Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist… ah how I miss it) finding their way from the salt sprayed warehouses of Islay. This new release makes obvious reference to the most recent Ardbegian marketing experiment which saw a few vials of new make find their way beyond our atmosphere. It is a vintage bottling this time around though, and with the inclusion of some Marsala matured stock.