200 years of Ardbeg – Interview with Bill Lumsden

May around the world was full of official “Ardbeg Day” celebrations commemorating 200 years of Ardbeg.

Fans of peaty Islay whiskies at some point or the other find their way to Ardbeg. Many keep coming back. You can usually spot an Ardbeg poking around in my whisky cabinet – currently it is the Uigeadail.

Ardbeg 200

I thought what better timing to share a short extract from an interview with Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stock, The Glenmorangie Company in Delhi on 10 April 2015 for Man’s World India. While primarily the interview focused on Glenmorangie, we did chat briefly about its peatier cheekier cousin Ardbeg.

CH: May will be the 200th anniversary of Ardbeg and you have plans to launch a new whisky. Tell us more?

BL: Ahh.. the land of the badgers… The 1st product has already been launched – Perpetuum – with the committee release already out.

The idea is that the distillery has a very checkered history. It has been opened and closed and opened and neglected until LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) took it over. So the idea is that in addition to looking back on what has happened in the last 200 years we are looking ahead to the next 200 years. And we want the distillery to remain open and in production in perpetuity. So that is where the name has come from.

Basically I’ve put together a mélange of lots of different cask types, lots of different styles of Ardbeg that have been made over the years. I tasted it in Sydney on Wednesday and I thought, to be honest, I’m generally my own worst critic but I’m quite happy with how this one has worked out.

We are also going to do another bottling for Ardbeg – a higher end bottling. I’ve already put together a recipe for that. It will be very limited. It will not be a cheap and regret I can’t tell you any more details on that as there hasn’t been a pre-release yet.

CH: Let’s talk about the Committee with now over 100,000 members – its role and future?

BL: The committee has grown to such an extent now with these limited bottlings that inevitably there are people who are going to be disappointed.

I’m not 100% sure about the future direction of the committee. It was formed to make sure that the doors of the distillery never close again and its been very successful in that. So like I say, we are reviewing the committee to see how to take it to the next stage.

Bill Lumsden (Ardbeg Blogger Vault)

Bill Lumsden (Ardbeg Blogger Vault)

Pssstt…. Perpetuum is available at the distillery and also online (though apparently demand ‘broke‘ the website temporarily).

Those lucky enough to sample a bottle – slainthe! For the rest of us – raise a toast with your favourite available Ardbeg and celebrate continued access to this impish Islay distillery!

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