Photograph: Jack Shainsky

Ardbeg Distillery

Ardbeg Distillery is a Scotch whisky distillery on the south coast of the isle of Islay.

Other distilleries on the south coast include Laphroaig and Lagavulin. Ardbeg claims to be the peatiest Islay whisky, and uses malted barley sourced from the (Diageo owned) maltings in Port Ellen. Distillery manager was Mr. Stuart Thomson from 1997 to 2006. On March 12th 2007, Michael “Mickey” Heads, the former manager at Jura took over the reins from Stuart Thomson. Ardbeg is renowned for its overtly peaty, smokey house style. Despite a pungent nose, formidable flavors, and high alcohol content, Ardbeg is surprisingly smooth on the palate, with a warm lingering finish.


The Ardbeg distillery was established in 1815, but was mothballed in 1981 when production stopped. Production resumed on a limited basis in 1989, and continued at a low level through late 1996. It was bought and reopened in 1997 by Glenmorangie Plc, with production resuming on June 25, 1997, with full production resuming in 1998. It is now one of the fastest growing Islay single-malts. Glenmorangie Plc. is jointly owned by the French company LVMH and the British company Diageo.

The Ardbeg Committee was established in 1945 to “promote the advancement of general knowledge and enjoyment of Ardbeg”. All Ardbeg-aficionados can join this Committee on Ardbeg’s website (see below). Special bottlings can sometimes be obtained by members of this committee. It is not possible to have these special bottlings shipped to the US or Canada.

Ardbeg often bottles its whiskies at a higher alcohol level than the minimum 40% ABV. Many bottlings are also non-chillfiltered. Both measures contribute to produce a full-flavoured whisky.