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Ardbeg 1965, from which casks it has been drawn?

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Ardbeg 1965, from which casks it has been drawn?

Postby PeatPirate » Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:33 am

Hi all,

On this website http://www.weedram.be/joomla/ Bert Bruyneel publishes his whisky diary. It's written in Dutch, so I will try to translate an interresting story Bert published yesterday.

This is what the label from the 1965 Ardbeg 40YO tells us:

Ardbeg distilled 1965, a very rare vatting of Islay Single Malt Whisky drawn from two exceptionally old Ardbeg casks, nrs 3678 and 3679. Bottled at cask strength in 2005 and non-chillfiltered for maximum flavour


In august 2004 Bert worked for a week at Ardbeg. Earlier this week he checked the pictures he's got from that week. Amongst those pictures was one on which bert found himself with those 2 cask which where already empty at the time (august 2004!!!)

To view the picture choose the next link: http://www.weedram.be/blog/Bert/

A bit strange I think. Perhaps somebody knows more about this.

Greetz PP
Last edited by PeatPirate on Sat Sep 09, 2006 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Sep 06, 2006 6:35 am

Okay, there's something peculiar we don't understand. It's not unusual, lots of things go on that we, the consumers, don't really know about. Maybe these two casks were vatted some time prior to August 2004 and left to get to know each other, then bottled in 2005. I don't know. But I do know I wouldn't throw words like "scam" around if I wasn't pretty damn sure about it. Instead of getting our shorts in a knot over some presumed inconsistency, let's ask questions in a rational manner.

Don't mean to get on your case, PP, you've raised an interesting question. And I understand that a lot of folks are uncomfortable about the direction that Ardbeg is taking, or that they perceive it to be taking, under new ownership. But accusations of fraud seem a bit over the top, without some calm investigation, and I wouldn't like to see Ardbeg backlash descend into hysteria.
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Postby PeatPirate » Wed Sep 06, 2006 6:56 am

Hi Mr. T.

Notice the 2 questionmarks in the topic title. So, I'm not accusing anybody of anything. Just asking questions. As you can see, I also think there's probably just a misunderstanding.

I wouldn't throw words like "scam" around if I wasn't pretty damn sure about it


I'm not sure of anything. Perhaps the word "scam" is a bit harsh. But as you probably know English is not my native language.

Greetz PP
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Postby Ize » Wed Sep 06, 2006 11:08 am

It's possible that I couldn't quite follow the storyline, but how come Bert knew to take picture of himself with two barrels that happen to be mentioned in the bottle(s?) etiquette year later? What are the odds for that if it just was coincidence?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Sep 06, 2006 11:20 am

Presumably they were the two barrels with the oldest dates that Bert could see - hence the photo. Whenever I have been on distillery tours, everyone (including me) has been fascinated by the dates on casks and wanted to find the oldest cask in the place.

In the future, we will have to take correctly programmed barcode scanners to do this.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Wed Sep 06, 2006 12:39 pm

I think it may not be as suspect as what people might think. Take 2 40yo whiskies which are probably reduced to less than 50% of the barrel capacity and place into one single barrel to marry. Nothing unusual there. No point vatting 2 barrels in the vats as the volume would not warrant it. Well that would be my guess anyway.

Also nothing unusual about the picture as they are the last 2 remaining barrels so it is reasonable that the tour guide pointed out the empty barrels to the lucky visitors of the time.

But the fact that they did not publicise the fact is slightly peculiar given all the hype behind it.

I honestly don't think that there is anything devious behind it ....

.... unless :twisted:
Last edited by irishwhiskeychaser on Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Drrich1965 » Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:20 pm

This is a novice question, and I have no idea if this is even done, but could it have been they vatted them in another cask that they thought to be of higher quality (given how special these two casks were), or would provide them with characteristics in the whisky that the distiller desired?

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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:12 pm

First of all, my apologies, Peat Pirate--I really didn't mean to jump on you. I've seen a lot of uninformed cynicism lately, and that is one of my peeves...I guess I've gotten cynical about cynicism! It was late when I posted, and I was cranky, and I'm afraid that came through. I almost deleted and started over, and I probably should have.

It seems very likely to me that, at the time of the photo, the barrels had recently been emptied. Why else would they be hanging around?

Put into another barrel? My first reaction to that is that "topping" is not permitted; but "finishing" certainly is. So why not? The only negative here is that one would hope that the particular barrel would be identified. But if it was pretty similar to the other barrels (and one would think so), I suppose it's not really necessary.

Why not just put all of the whisky in one of the original barrels? To be sure of not running afoul of the prohibition on topping.

Another point--does Ardbeg refer to this as "40yo", or just by the vintage? If they call it 40yo, does it have to have been in the original casks for 40 years? I don't think necessarily so, but I'm not sure.

All of this is just me speculating. When we are speculating, we must be careful to take the speculation for what it's worth, which is nothing, really. Until we get some authoritative word, we don't really know anything.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:19 pm

what is topping?
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Postby bamber » Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:22 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:Put into another barrel? My first reaction to that is that "topping" is not permitted; but "finishing" certainly is. So why not? The only negative here is that one would hope that the particular barrel would be identified. But if it was pretty similar to the other barrels (and one would think so), I suppose it's not really necessary.


Hi Mr. T,

Do you not what the specific rules on 'topping' are ? I can't find anything on the net about it .....
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Postby bamber » Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:23 pm

Nick Brown wrote:what is topping?


Beat me to it !
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:40 pm

It is expressly forbidden to put whipped cream on your dram.

Sorry.... My understanding is that it is not permitted to top up barrels. If you have 1,000 barrels from the same distillation which have all lost 25% to the angels, you can't pour 250 of them into the other 750 barrels. I don't know what the legal consequences are if you do--maybe they are considered to have stopped aging in the legal sense.

I'm sure someone here knows more about this than I do.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:51 pm

How odd - I couldn't see any objection to this as long as you didn't try to pretend the product was something it wasn't. How, I wonder, did Dail Mor manage to get their C19th whisky into their 62yo? Or is it permitted provided you marry into an entirely new cask...?
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:55 pm

Could it be that the barrels were emptied and put into a steel vat and then put on hold untill they knew what to do with it? Maybe to ensure the whisky didn't go under the 40% limit?

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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:19 pm

Could easily be something like that. I believe the prohibition has to do only with the maturation period, so it's some sort of legal issue--a matter of what you can call it, or how old you can say it is. And it is only wild speculation on my part that they wouldn't pour one cask into the other to avoid raising this issue. I'm sure that, as in any business, there are standards and practices that make little sense to the outside observer, but which exist to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:36 pm

In response to TH's earlier point about topping up, there doesn't seem to be any legislative prohibition to topping up casks.
It is probably more to do with practicality. To add to a cask would completely change the chemistry as it would exclude air. By the same token the the emptier cask would now be exposed to more air and accordingly the quality would change - may be for the better, but more likely for the worse.

Even if this practice did exist, it would be a huge demand on the distiller to decide which casks to sacrifice for the sake of others. Taking the size of some warehouses into consideration, where casks could be racked eight or more high, the logistics would be complex and un-economical.
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Postby PeatPirate » Wed Sep 06, 2006 6:00 pm

Hi Mr. T, forum,

You said:

Peat Pirate--I really didn't mean to jump on you. I've seen a lot of uninformed cynicism lately


No offense taken here :) I agree with you as you say
let's ask questions in a rational manner.


In fact I do hope that there's a logical explanation for this matter. Ardbeg is on of my favourite whiskies/distilleries, and I would like to keep it that way. I'm just a bit worried about the latest developements at Ardbeg. There seems to be some turbulence over there :wink:

I'll try to contribute my 10 cents and stop speculating on what really happened, till there's new information on this topic from reliable/well informed sources. I'll keep you all informed when there's something new to share with you all.

Greetz PP
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Postby Lawrence » Thu Sep 07, 2006 1:24 am

I spoke to a distillery manager about 'topping' recently, it's allowed but totally unpractical, he actually paled at the thought of moved all those casks around.

As for the Ardbeg question, why don't you just ask Bert? (PS he became a Malt Maniac today!)
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Postby MGillespie » Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:18 am

While I don't have any inside information on this...it's quite possible that the barrels were emptied into a stainless steel vat for holding. If I remember correctly, the 1965 was described as a 39 year old whisky...which would have put the "de-casking" at sometime in 2004 or early 2005. Of course, the bottling wasn't released until July 2006.

Of course, if I'm wrong...I'll gladly acknowledge that...

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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Sep 07, 2006 3:27 am

Lawrence wrote:I spoke to a distillery manager about 'topping' recently, it's allowed but totally unpractical, he actually paled at the thought of moved all those casks around.


Hmmm.... I could swear I had heard somewhere that this was a no-no. But I don't know where, and it could be faulty memory, I suppose. Maybe someone told me that they simply don't do it.
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Postby PeatPirate » Thu Sep 07, 2006 3:51 am

Hi all,

Lawrence said:

As for the Ardbeg question, why don't you just ask Bert? (PS he became a Malt Maniac today!)


I'll ask Bert if he is willing to post his thoughts on this subject. I spoke to him yesterday morning. He told me, he knows what has really happened with the Ardbeg 1965.


Very nice for Bert (and his fellow maniacs) that he's a MM member now. He's a really nice guy, who eats, drinks and sleeps whisky :)

Greetz PP
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Postby PeatPirate » Thu Sep 07, 2006 5:20 am

Mr. T.

I almost forgot to say:

Dust you down from tip to toe.
Show you how the garden grows

:wink:


You're not the only one who is thick as a brick :lol:

Greetz PP
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Sep 07, 2006 8:12 am

PeatPirate wrote:Mr. T.

I almost forgot to say:

Dust you down from tip to toe.
Show you how the garden grows

:wink:


You're not the only one who is thick as a brick :lol:

Greetz PP


No, there is also Bruce Crichton. I can't say I'm a huge Tullhead--not like my friend Win, anyway--but I like "songs from the wood" as a metaphor for whisky. Now excuse me while I go resting down in Cornwall.
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Postby PeatPirate » Thu Sep 07, 2006 8:29 am

Mr. T,


Now excuse me while I go resting down in Cornwall



writing up your memoirs??


8)

Grtz. PP
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Postby corbuso » Thu Sep 07, 2006 9:17 am

I don't know in detail the story of these two casks. When I was in June 2005, I have been told that the 2 last casks of Ardbeg 1965 have been recently claimed back by their owners and intended to use them for blending. So Glenmorangie had to buy these two casks (or the content of these casks) back from their owner (which had to be Allied Distillers).

Sometimes it is better not to know all the details and just to enjoy the whisky


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Postby bamber » Thu Sep 07, 2006 9:49 am

I don't like the idea of topping. I feel like the whisky and the cask go through a journey together, which should not be interferrred with.
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Postby peatjunkie » Thu Sep 07, 2006 12:37 pm

Let's say they empty the two cask's and finish them in another cask that has some high volume spirit left,if only a tiny bit.It might bring it just over 40% alcohol.

It 's worth trying instead of loosing Ardbeg 1965 to some blend.

Peatjunkie 8)
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Postby bamber » Thu Sep 07, 2006 12:52 pm

I've got no problem with vatting casks to bring the strength upwards of 40% and then bottling it. However, I don't like the thought of the spirit being left for another period of time, in a 'new' cask, to mature further. I'm not talking about finishing here, I mean for another x number of years.

As an aside 'finishing' rare old casks seems weird to me: Ardbeg 40yo Um Bongo finish :shock:

If there's high strength whisky left in the other cask, it's age will doubtless determine the age of the final vatting (as it is likely to be relatively young).
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Sep 07, 2006 1:18 pm

Personally, I can't see the difference between topping and vatting prior to bottling. One cask can be decanted into another for a variety of reasons - including a cask starting to leak. I am sure the Dail Mor 62 was a result of topping and nobody seems to have complained.

Finishing is a different matter as I think it is adding an artificial flavour. Having said that, my views have mellowed a bit after trying a couple of rather delicious port finishes (Ben Nevis and Bowmore). Still uneasy with it, though - and I think it is far more suspect than topping or vatting.

Ultimately, though, we should judge on the merits of the dram in front of us.
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Postby Lawrence » Thu Sep 07, 2006 3:34 pm

Nick Brown wrote:Ultimately, though, we should judge on the merits of the dram in front of us.


What a concept! I think you've got it!
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Postby Bert B. » Fri Sep 08, 2006 11:29 am

Forum,

Some things on the empty Ardbeg 1965 casks ...

I worked a whole week at the Ardbeg distillery at that time (call it 'the Ardbeg Academy' :wink: ). This may declare that I didn't discover the casks during a tour, or by coincedence. They were shown to me, because they were quiet hidden, as the two casks for the 1965 'to be' ...

Somebody stated that in 2005, the oldest casks at the distillery would be from 1965. Very weird, but in 2004, the oldest casks were 5 or 6 1975's, among which the fantastic 4719 (Islay Festival 2005). I spent quiet some time in the warehouses and saw quiet some 'insiders', but there weren't any 1965 casks.

I further agree that we first should taste the whisky before we finally judge it. I will taste it next thursday. I will keep you posted ...

Cheers,
B. !!!
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Fri Sep 08, 2006 3:35 pm

Bert B. wrote:Forum,


Somebody stated that in 2005, the oldest casks at the distillery would be from 1965. Very weird, but in 2004, the oldest casks were 5 or 6 1975's, among which the fantastic 4719 (Islay Festival 2005). I spent quiet some time in the warehouses and saw quiet some 'insiders', but there weren't any 1965 casks.




That could have been because the older casks weren't at Ardbeg but at Broxburn . We'd never seen any 73's, 73's and 74's in the warehouses but all of a sudden a rash of them were bottled . I believe in Peat smoke..... Andrew states that only casks up to a certain age were going to be stored at Ardbeg due to the lack of warehousing (thanks to the former owners Allied !) . There were still a handful of 1975's at Ardbeg in May 2006 . A few of the older casks were returned to the distillery for display purposes (at the end of the Old Kiln Bar room ) .

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Postby Bert B. » Fri Sep 08, 2006 4:05 pm

Hello,

Somebody in Holland (Laddie Teun) has mailed this whole question to Bill Lumsden. This was Bill's politically correct answer:

As is often the case in life, the reality is somewhat more mundane, I'm
afraid......

As you can imagine, since these 2 casks were so old, and so much of the
luscious spirit had been lost to the Angel's share, parts of the
wood had dried out, and the casks were unfortunately starting to
leak slightly. Immediate action was therefore required, so I took
the decision to have the whisky emptied out of the casks and re-
filled into another, butt-sized cask. I had always intended that the
tiny quantities of whisky left in these casks (nos. 3678 & 3679)
would be added together before bottling, so mixing them in one cask
was not a problem. Of course, I did not want the character of the
whisky to be changed, so I used a refill butt, i.e. a butt which had
been used several times previously, ensuring that the only impact on
character/flavour would be from the wood itself, for the final year that
the whisky would mature for.

This operation took place in February 2004, hence the reason that
your colleague saw the empty casks at Ardbeg in 2004.

One final detail is that you are not quite correct to call the 1965 Ardbeg
40 years old - I had it bottled in 2005, since the strength had
dropped to
41.2% (again due to 'the Angel's share), and as I'm sure you know,
if the strength drops below 40%, the resulting liquid cannot be
legally called Scotch Whisky.

I trust this clears up the confusion, and that if you or your colleagues
are lucky enough to get a bottle of 1965, you thoroughly enjoy the
astonishing nectar within.

With best wishes

Bill


Cheers,
B. !!!
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Sep 08, 2006 4:25 pm

Great! All's well that ends well.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Fri Sep 08, 2006 4:28 pm

I think between us all we guessed what happened :lol:
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