The Three Distilleries Path – Aaarrrrrrdbeg

Prelude: Sorry that I don’t find the time to write it all down in one go, but I promise to at least make it a weekly update and be finished before I’ll get back to Islay…

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So after we spend the day at Kilchoman and later on the shores of Loch Indaal, we spend the night at the Ballygrant Inn. Beside all the nice drams and food we had, we also decided that it’s time to let go of Jimmy as the taxi tours started to eat a big hole into our budget and since Private and I both have quite a bit of travel experience, we decided to get into the adventure that is Islay’s public transportation. Granted, it wasn’t the brightest idea to figure out our route half drunk at the end of a long day, but Ewan fixed our route and guided us through the jungle that is Islay’s bus schedule .

Private and I both swore we also said that we would like a “normal” breakfast instead of a full Scotty, but that might not be the case or – even more possible – Paul wisely decided that we definitely need a full Scotty to survive the day ahead. And – once again – he was damn right!

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So after a nice full Scottish breakfast again cured any traces of hangover, we were of to some solid Scottish weather. Never mind, today’s rain is tomorrow’s whisky, so to the -bus station- neighbor’s house we went.

And really after a few minutes the school bus picked us up. Some wee friendly chatter and off we go! Explorers of the Island. Conquerors of the public transportation system. To Ardbeg!

Since we didn’t do much at Ardbeg but enjoyed the nice visitors center as well as free wifi and coffee, there’s not much to say here so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Everything and everyone was super nice at the distillery and we’ll definitely take a tour next time!

Before I leave you with the pictures, let’s have a wee look at Ardbeg’s history as this will be important for some of the drams to come.

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Ardbeg began its commercial production in 1815 but is said to have been producing whisky since 1789. Like so many other distilleries, it had its heights during the 19th century and the site even had a school with 100 pupils attending it. But – again similar to many other distilleries – depression and war kicked in and business was going very slow. In 1959 DCL and Hiram Walker bought the distillery, I spare you the who bought who and when in the years between. Look it up though, it’s quite fascinating. The Ardbeg Project might be the best place to do so but due to its fanbase their probably hundreds more.

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In the following years the demand in peated whiskies for blends once again got so high, that in 1974 Ardbeg mostly stopped malting their own malt and used the peated malt from Port Ellen Maltings. 1979 Hiram Walker bought out DCL and hence held 100% of the stakes.

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Two years later, in 1981, Ardbeg was mothballed. In 1989 Allied Distillers bought Ardbeg and began production again, though only for two month a year. 1996 the distillery is closed again, only to be bought by Glenmorangie one year later. They did not only buy the distillery but also all of the remaining stock of casks. Eventually, in 2004 the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group bought Ardbeg and still owns them to date.

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Ok, now here’s a bunch of pictures I took at Ardbeg, it really is a very nice place and you should go there…

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And on we went to a funny place called Lag a’Muilin….

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7 Comments

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