An Islay classic, an Oak Barrel favourite and a distillery we haven’t featured on its own for way too long, we’d like to invite you to a very special night of Ardbeg this August at The Oak Barrel.
Digging into the archives, we’ll bring the smoke and stories from this Islay distillery dripping in history and innovation.
Given how prominent the Ardbeg brand is worldwide, it’s easy to forget just how new the current regime is. Following a few decades of uncertainty, Ardbeg – then under the ownership of Hiram Walker – closed in 1981. When the parent company was acquired by Allied, they decided to re-open the distillery and production resumed in 1989, right at the end of one of the most tumultuous decades in Scotch whisky history.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however, and Ardbeg was closed in 1996 and put on the market by Allied. The following year Glenmorangie picked up the distillery for £7 million. Although people assumed one of Scotland’s best-known distilleries knew what they were doing, that figure raised more than a few eyebrows as being well above what Glenmo’ should have paid. In 2018 and with plenty of hindsight, it’s considered one of the great bargains in whisky.
With a new approach and game plan, Glenmorangie went about turning Ardbeg into one of the great Islay staples of our time. The Committee global fan club was founded in 2000 and experimental releases appeared from the pre-acquisition stock. Some of those releases, like Uigeadail, are now staple expressions.
The new owners were still driven to showcase their own distillate and a series of releases – Very Young, Still Young and Almost There – culminated in 2008 with the release of a limited-edition cask strength ten-year-old Renaissance. It was the DNA of what became the classic 10-year-old, the whisky which has cultivated an army of cult fans and made the Ardbeg logo one of the most distinctive of all Scotch whiskies.
We’re pleased to confirm a very special Ardbeg tasting night as part of our Sydney Whisky Fair Masterclasses. Hosted by long-time Australian ambassador Garth Foster, we’ve dug into the Oak Barrel archives to put together a tasting with the Renaissance expression, some of the more recent Committee releases and the new Grooves and An Oa. The Oak Barrel’s Scott Fitzsimons will also dig out a very special single cask expression bottled by North Star for the night, an exceedingly rare example of an independent bottling allowed to carry the distillery name.
In the lead up to Sydney Whisky Fair 2018 The Oak Barrel will be hosting a number of ‘Fair Masterclasses’. These will provide an opportunity to get up close and personal with brands and distilleries, with plenty of time to mull over drams and ask plenty of questions. We run them as satellite events so you’re not drawn away from the tables during the main event and so you have plenty of time with each whisky without the allure of other shiny things!
Strictly one night only.
What we’ll be tasting:
Ardbeg 10-Year-Old 46%
Ardbeg Grooves 46%
Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release 55%
Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Release 51.7%
Ardbeg Renaissance 10-Year-Old 55.9%
North Star Ardbeg 12-Year-Old Single Cask 51.9%
Line-up subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. Tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable.