The Ardbeg distillery lies on Islay’s south-eastern shore, not far from Lagavulin and Laphroaig and close to the 4th century Celtic Cross of Kildalton. Ardbeg in Gaelic means ‘small headed’, a reference to this piece of land.
Ardbeg Distillery was officially established in 1815 by the MacDougall family but its use as a distillery is thought to predate this.
The distillery was mothballed in 1983, reopening in 1989 soon after which it was taken over by Allied distillers. Its future was not assured until the Moët Hennessy owned Glenmorangie Plc bought the distillery in 1997, resumed production and set about it’s much needed modernisation.
The Ardbeg distillery draws water from two lochs high up in the hills five miles away. Ardbeg is noted for its peatyness and it has a phenolic level of 55 ppm.
A ‘purifying valve’ is fitted at the top of the squat spirit still to divert heavier alcohols back for a partial third distillation.