Whisky Magazine Issue 74
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It's more than ten years since Ardbeg ended a period of stop-start production and went back on stream properly. And as Dominic Roskrow reports, it's going from strength to strength.
When you look back over the whisky industry in 2008, what will you remember most about it?
Will it be the spate of distillery openings, distillery re-openings, the distillery sales or rumours of sales; or the flurry of new packaging and excellent new brands that are shaping 2008 in to an extraordinarily dynamic year?
The year has been a vibrant and varied one, but without doubt the distillery that has shaped it for me has been Ardbeg.Through a series of unrelated and coincidental events,Ardbeg and its mother company Glenmorangie/LVMH have loomed large throughout my year, and have provided some of its most vivid memories.
My first winter visit to Ardbeg, and indeed Islay, for instance.
Under broody brown skies and through lashing horizontal rain the distillery was cold and silent, the distilling equipment stripped for maintenance, the Old Kiln Cafe empty.Nothing a few select drams and the welcoming smile of new distiller Michael Heads couldn't cure of course, but still a sobering experience when set alongside the mental picture I have of the distillery, all laughter and light.
At the other extreme, I witnessed Ardbeg at its most breath-taking and most dramatic, at dawn on a summer's day from a sailing boat as the sun sharded one golden arrow across the waters and our bows plunged through the waves sending shards of broken sea to momentarily obscure the view,before the distillery's white walls once more rose up above the swell.
Then there has been the whisky: the wonderfu...