illustration of glass containing whisky

Step back in time

The rise & fall of Ardbeg

Ardbeg's story is one of irrepressible spirit surviving against the odds, finally emerging as "unquestionably, the greatest distillery on Earth".

Ardbeg whisky bottle


One-of-a-kind 1975 cask sells for record £16 million

An extraordinary milestone in Ardbeg’s 200-year history, Ardbeg 'Cask No. 3’ is the oldest ever released by Ardbeg. To recognise the contribution generations of Distillery workers made to produce and protect it, £1 million is donated to community causes and projects on Islay.


Two becomes four

Ardbeg's new stillhouse is completed in March 2021 – doubling capacity from two stills to four (watch the timelapse video on YouTube).


Ardbeg bids farewell to Micky Heads and welcomes successor, Colin Gordon

After 13 whisky-filled years at the helm, Micky Heads retires and passes the hydrometer and high-vis jacket over to Colin Gordon, Ardbeg's new Distillery Manager.

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Batch 1 of Ardbeg Traigh Bhan launches

Inspired by the heavenly vista of Traigh Bahn, an impossibly balanced small-batch 19-year-old is released.


Ardbeggians around the world celebrate all things Peat & Love

Ardbeg Day 2018 brings meditation, cask hugging, and the grooviest thing to come out of Ardbeg Distillery for decades - Ardbeg Grooves. Slàinte, man...


Ardbeg An Oa joins Ultimate range

Ardbeg An Oa, our roundest dram ever, becomes the newest member of the family alongside Ten Years Old, Uigeadail and Corryvreckan. Our sixth Ardbeg Day sees the release of Ardbeg Kelpie rise from the mysterious depths of the Black Sea.


Ardbeg Dark Cove launches

The darkest Ardbeg ever, Dark Cove, is released to mark Ardbeg 'Night' 2016.


200 years of Ardbeg

Instead of looking backwards for Ardbeg’s bicentenary, we looked 200 years into the future. Ardbeg Perpetuum launched.


The Ardbeg space experiment comes home

The world’s first whisky experiment in space touched down in Kazakhstan, on 12th September 2014. The answers to the mysteries of maturation and the universe were imminent. Ardbeg Supernova 2014 took off. PLUS the world limbered up and partook in the Ardbeggian take on the football world cup for Ardbeg Day. Ardbeg Auriverdes launched.


Ardbeg Tractour - torque about powerful

8.6 litres and 100mph of pure, supercharged V8 fury, our custom-built Massey Ferguson tractor toured the world. PLUS our second Ardbeg Day became Ardbog Day as we celebrated all things peaty.


Galileo - watch this space

To celebrate our ongoing and historic space experiment, we launch Ardbeg Galileo. 60,000 bottles sell out within 48 hours. PLUS we celebrated the first ever Ardbeg Day by holding not the Olympics, but the ‘Islay-limpics’.


The tale of the 'Islay-Gator'

Alligator char’ American Oak casks and a smoky, spicy flavour ensure Ardbeg Alligator is snapped up by the Committee. PLUS Ardbeg conducts the first whisky experiment in space on the International Space Station.


Three times a winner

Ardbeg Supernova is awarded Scotch Whisky of the Year. Ardbeg Corryvreckan wins World's Best Single Malt Whisky and Single Malt of the Year. PLUS Ardbeg Rollercoaster is released to celebrate the Committee’s 10th anniversary.


World Whisky of the Year again

Ardbeg Uigeadail scoops the World Whisky of the Year honour in the 2009 – the second time for Ardbeg. PLUS: 3,000 bottles of Ardbeg Supernova, the peatiest Ardbeg ever are snapped up in record time. Ardbeg Corryvreckan joins the core range on worldwide release.


World Whisky of the Year

Ardbeg Ten Years Old wins World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s 2008 Whisky Bible – a big achievement indeed. PLUS: Ardbeg Renaissance completes the peaty path to maturity. Ardbeg Corryvreckan is released to the Committee. Lightly peated Ardbeg Blasda – Gaelic for 'sweet and delicious' – is launched.


Michael Heads becomes Ardbeg's 20th Manager and Chairman of the Ardbeg Committee

Ardbeg Almost There is bottled – the third limited release of the 1998 distillate.

Ardbeg Mor becomes the biggest launch to date. Mor (Gaelic for 'big and magnificent') is 1,000 sought-after 4.5 litre bottles of cask strength Ten Years Old.

Ardbeg Double Barrel unveiled – 250 pairs of the acclaimed Ardbeg 1974 vintage single cask bottlings presented in luxury shotgun cases.


Young, old and rare.

Ardbeg Still Young is launched, the next step on ''the peaty path to maturity''.

Ardbeg 1965, an extremely limited release of only 261 bottles is the oldest Ardbeg ever to be released: 'the envy of Islay'.

Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist ("the Beastie") is released, drawn from rare and restricted whisky stocks, laid down in 1990. 


A serendipitous year

Ardbeg is established as part of the House of Glenmorangie within Moet Hennessy/LVMH. Production reaches 1 million litres. PLUS someone pulls the wrong lever and mixes Ardbeg with a small quantity of Glen Moray. Disaster is averted with the unbranded release of Serendipity (pity to waste it).


Ardbeg Uigeadail is released

It is named after the Distillery’s water source, meaning ‘dark and mysterious place’. PLUS the first Glenmorangie Company distillate is released to The Committee ‘for discussion’, a limited bottling of Very Young Ardbeg.


More awards for Ardbeg

Jackie Thomson is awarded Visitor Centre Manager of the Year by Whisky Magazine. In the same year, The Distillery is named as a 4 star visitor attraction by The Scottish Tourist Board.


Ardbeg Lord of the Isles is launched


Ardbeg Ten Years Old and Ardbeg Committee launches

The extraordinary balance of peaty power and floral sweetness makes it a big hit and the core expression in the Ardbeg range. PLUS the worldwide Ardbeg Committee is formed to ensure ‘the doors of the Distillery never close again’.


Production reaches 600,000 litres a year

Investment in new people and new equipment is already beginning to pay off. PLUS Ardbeg single casks are hand selected and released in very limited, exclusive bottlings.


Ardbeg is voted Distillery of the Year

The Visitor Centre and Old Kiln Cafe open, attracting 3,500 visitors. It’s a remarkable turnaround in only 12 short months. PLUS Ardbeg 1975 launches.


The Glenmorangie Company purchases the distillery

After the second closure in 1991, the Distillery reopens in 1997. Full-time production commences, with the first bottlings comprising 17 Years Old, 1978 Vintage and Ardbeg Provenance.


Allied Lyons acquires Hiram Walker and therefore Ardbeg

Two years later, small-scale distilling resumes to satisfy demand for Ardbeg from blenders.

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Production dwindles to nothing

The distillery closes with the loss of 18 jobs and a devastating effect on the local community.

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Hiram Walker acquires Ardbeg

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Alexander Macdougall & Co Ltd buys Ardbeg for £19,000

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The name 'Ardbeg' is registered as a trademark

The distinctive letter ‘A’ is also registered to protect Ardbeg’s brand and reputation.

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Output tops 1.1 million litres a year

In his book ‘The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom’, Alfred Barnard records that Ardbeg is producing 250,000 gallons (1.1 million litres) of whisky a year, making it the most productive distillery on Islay.

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Alexander Macdougall dies

After his death, Ardbeg is co-run by Colin Hay and Macdougall’s sisters, Margaret and Flora, who may rightfully be Scotland’s first female distillers. 

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A new owner

Thomas Buchanan, a Glasgow spirit merchant, buys the Distillery for £1,800. John Macdougall’s son Alexander continues to manage operations.

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Ardbeg distillery is founded

John Macdougall takes out a licence, establishing Ardbeg Distillery as a legitimate commercial concern.

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