We do some pretty cool stuff at TWL throughout the year weather that be trips/tastings/shows and this whole week on Islay had been truly epic, but this day was about to put the icing on what was a very large cake.

The Whisky Lounge and Ardbeg go way back, Eddie TWL founder in years gone by was once Ardbeg’s Ambassador and through our many trips to Islay over the years we’ve got to know the guys and gals there  pretty well. With this years day being themed around pirates and with our friends Nikki and Pete on the Bessie Ellen, this seemed like an unmissable opportunity to do an incredible collaborative event, and with Ardbeg celebrating its 200th anniversary this was made all the more impressive.

So this was going to be no ordinary Ardbeg day for us…

Anchored just off the distillery Bessie bobbed around in the waves while groups of 20 or so were ferried over form Ardbeg’s pier to join us on board. Once on deck we had something pretty special lined up. These lucky folk were about to taste some incredible Ardbeg’s alongside, not just ourselves but Iain, Ardbeg’s heritage manager. Iain and has spent years exploring the history of this iconic liquid in great detail and he had some fantastic tidbits and tails to tell.

The sun was shining, the wind was gentle, the whisky was on exceptionally good form, Iain had his incredible Ardbeg history to explain, we had the whisky chat, and the ship had, well, the ship!

20150530_114014
20150530_13215520150530_133841P1080166P1080145So what were we tasting? Well with this setting and the gravity of the 200th anniversary there was good cause to bring out some of the big guns.

First up on the left we had a committee release of Corryvreckan. This was a limited release which (not surprisingly) was made available to committee members back in 2008. You can find out more about the Ardbeg Committee here.

On the right we have the Renaissance, this was the 4th and final release in the series of Very Young, Still Young and Almost There. This series followed Ardbeg’s whisky on its journey back to ten years old after being mothballed through the 90s under a previous owner.  This release is now a rarity and  like the Committee Corry on the left is now one for the glass cabinets in specialist shops and auction houses. A punchy Ardbeg at a glorious 55.9% and a fitting end to what was an immense series.

The blank and unassuming bottle in the middle was the show stealer, an incredible single cask 1976 Ardbeg, 53.5% and one of 492 bottles bottled for the Italian market in 2002.  Old sherry matured Ardbeg like this is now as rare as hens teeth and if you were to find a bottle of this, in its sale form with label and packaging, it would most likely set you back around £2500-£3000. We emptied 4 of these during the day and not surprisingly made a lot of people incredibly happy.

Enjoying these whiskies in this setting was a truly unforgettable experience and being able to taste them alongside Micky (distillery manager), Iain, my fellow TWL team mates and legions of true Ardbeg fans is beyond words. What a day!

Hope to see some of you on Islay next May.

Till then, Slainte!

Joe