In this forum Ardbeg's commercial strategies have been discussed on different occasions recently.
I have another point for discussion that bothers me since a few months.
Just a short flash back to draw the context : in 1998, just after my daughter was born, I won a whisky weekend on Islay. During our stay there, we visited - together with the famous Lochside Hotel keeper Allistair - most distilleries. The visit of Ardbeg was my life-time whisky moment... Stuart Thomson, now leaving Ardbeg, braught us in the cellars and showed us the oldest casks, i.e. from 1974. There were only 3 left of those 1974's ! He didn't only show them, but also opened one and let us taste the nectar. We drunk at least one bottle (we were five I guess), all amazed by Stuarts generosity. This cask streng whisky straight from the cask was unbeleivably good, so good that I promised myself that if one day these three casks were bottled, I would try to get hold of one, no matter what it would cost.
Sorry this introduction was so long, but the memories are so good
Now, for a few years I was looking on the internet for a bottle of one of these three casks (i was really only interested in these three casks, not in indy's or other years, cask numbers etc). Two months ago I finally found one on e-bay and bought it immediately (and paid a rediculously high price to my standards, but didn't mind at all this time
While looking for all these old Ardbegs (OB's), and I still watch e-bay for them, I wondered how it is possible that you still can find original bottlings of 1974, bottled for instance in 2003 with a cask number that is not one of these three last remaining casks at Arbeg distillery in 1998. Moreover, you can even find 1973's, 1972's, OB's, all bottled after the year 1998.
A logical answer could be that Ardbeg has different warehouses, with old casks waiting to be bottled, but Stuart clearly said these three 1974's were the last in stock !
So my guess is (but I can be wrong of course, and this is why I turn to you on this forum) that Ardbeg - recently ? - buys old casks back from indy's to bottle them as OB's, at high prices. In my opinion, this practice (is of course legal I suppose, but) is a cheat to the public. They had no control over the casks during all those years and most probably the casks didn't even mature on Islay.
What do you find of this commercial option, or do you have another explanation for these new old OB's ?