Wednesday, October 28, 2015

the shelter of the beast: Ardbeg

We look pretty good don't we. My boy even soaked his socks trying to get that shot. Totally worth it.

Ardbeg was different - polished, elegant, and yes, the distillery that gives off the most obvious 'my parent company is rich' vibes - but man, what a whisky. This is an LVMH property with all the benefits that that entails ... above all, master marketing. The product diversification and storytelling is one thing (blasting bottles to the International Space Station, one-off anniversary bottles, etc.), but check this out: once they did a press event where they invited famous beverages journalists and writers to come camp in Islay. Only this wasn't some ratchet plastic tents and sleeping bags weekend of roughing it. LVMH don't do that shit. Luxury tents, attendants, furs laid out ... you can imagine.

I love marketing because of the possibilities it gives you to share stories. I don't know if the perception still holds of marketers being glorified pitchmen, selling fugazis to poor, unsuspecting victims, but that's not what it is. Marketers shouldn't create stories out of nothing. You distill the essence of what you're trying to communicate about something - a product, a service, anything - and you find ways to share that message with the right audience. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you should never market for a company whose offerings and business you don't truly believe in. Anything less, and you're selling your soul.

This place is cool. There are pictures of their jack russell mascot everywhere - and you get so bummed when you find out he died. First thing you see on the way is the shop. Bottles of whisky on sale, claro que si, but they also sell glassware, souvenirs, and even clothing. Yes, Ardbeg branded overcoats available for a few hundred quid. On the other side of the building is a restaurant, where we had (an excellent) lunch on our last day. Good beer on tap too. Once inside the actual distillery though, a throwback just like the rest. After Lagavulin ... almost too much of a good thing. Almost


10 Year Old: Bottled at 46% abv. Lovely peaty notes, and really smoky. Slight salinity. Great texture, lots of peat following on the palate. Powerful.

Corryvreckan: Cask strength. Much sweeter, almost like new make out of the still. Very spicy, lots of alcohol on the palate. A little difficult to drink - harsh and very unforgiving.

Uigeadail: Some roundness from the oak, but very peaty on the nose. You feel the alcohol, at 56.3% abv - cask strength. Spicy and powerful, lots of texture. Very good here, with a slight sweetness, plenty of richness. Incredibly exciting, and a bottle I had to take home with me.

Galileo: A one-off bottling. Sweet and round, an almost blended malt character. Good but otherwise unremarkable.


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