I, alongside several thousand other whisky buyers, now have hands on Ardbog. Ardbeg’s latest ‘limited’ release. It was bottled to celebrate Ardbog Day 2013, and celebrate their “peaty roots in the marshy wetlands of Islay; where Ardbeg’s smoky sweetness has been intriguingly interwoven with salty, savoury whiskies which have slumbered undisturbed in rare ex-Manzanilla sherry casks, all for at least ten long years”.
All very good of course, and packaged and promoted to the usual high-styandards you’d expect of a popular distillery owned by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy..
The problem is (and i LOVE Ardbeg) is that I’m worried for Ardbeg. Is this just too much? LAst year we had Ardbeg Day and Galileo – both limited releases. This suggests to me, there may be another this year, and at £79.99 (http://www.ardbeg.com/shop/product/whisky/ardbog.html) for Ardbog – it’s getting a costly affair.
Of course, most purchased is quickly resold to those not quick enough in the first place (it’s not like it appeared out the blue!) – but who’s drinking it?
Ardbeg’s core range isn’t on a par with say Bruichladdich, and it is very highly regarded of course. So what do these limited releases bring? Talkability, collectability or a new taste? But what happens when everyone you know drinks or collects Ardbeg? Does it then become commonplace? Don’t get me wrong – for a distillery which has been mothballed, it is enjoying a fantastic renaissance and I for one don’t want to see ‘closed’ signs on any distillery door let alone Ardbeg.
If you were to travel a short way from Ardbeg, another Whisky great sits – Lagavulin. More subtle in many respects, is this to become the whisky connoisseur’s distillery whilst Ardbeg becomes the collectors?
Who knows. I, for one, will continue to collect AND continue to drink both whiskies. They are my favourites, and when I revisit Islay in 2014, will pay both a visit.
In the meantime, I have a £79.99 bottle of Ardbog looking at me and curiosity may just get the better….