Any time we catch wind that Ardbeg has something new in the works, the hairs on our arms stand on end. This is a distillery that never does things the conventional way and is all the more fascinating for it, producing some of the most satisfying (and peaty) single malt Scotch whiskies you’re ever likely to come across. Now, this proud outlier in the world of distilling is pushing its dedication to peat even further, launching two new, highly unusual limited-edition whiskies in celebration of Ardbeg Day. This highly anticipated calendar event is held on the the last Saturday—June 3 this year—of Fèis Ìle, a “Festival of Music and Malt” hosted on Ardbeg’s island home of Islay.
The whiskies in question are an enticing proposition, particularly as their story starts with the highly irregular removal of the purifier from Ardbeg’s whisky-making process. As many of our readers are no doubt already aware, the purifier sits between the still and the condensers, allowing the whisky to find a balance between Ardbeg’s fruity herbal notes and those big smoky flavours we know and love. But with these releases, Ardbeg dared to ask the question, what if it didn’t? What if there was no purifier at all? The answer is a bold and smoke-rich whisky that delivers the kind of experience peat fans dream of.
Curiously, this smoky sensation comes in two limited-edition forms: the Ardbeg Heavy Vapours Limited Edition and the Ardbeg Heavy Vapours Committee Release. These heavenly variations both come with a complimentary t-shirt (we’ll be wearing ours as a badge of honour) and both are sure to delight those who appreciate the Ardbeg team’s devotion to doing things a little differently — meaning they can handle an experience that Ardbeg describes as “all peat” and “the most full-blown Ardbeg ever.”
So, precisely what are you in for? Having been distilled without the purifier, these Heavy Vapours releases were then matured in classic Ardbeg casks, resulting in an intense, pungent experience with “a distinct farmyard aroma.” While the smoke is highly dominant, the aroma also contains a sweet edge that’s not dissimilar to dark chocolate.
From there, the taste starts with a burst of bittersweet flavours that include coal dust, cardamon, peppermint, eucalyptus, and more dark chocolate with some coffee grits, while old-fashioned boiled sweets like aniseed twists, cinnamon balls, and antiseptic lozenges sit in the background. Finally, the aftertaste sustains boldly, while serving up an almost anaesthetising sensation – this is not for the faint of heart, but then Ardbeg never has been.
Marvel, Eat Your Heart Out
To celebrate these remarkable twin releases, Ardbeg has launched a follow up to last year’s Planet Ardbeg comic launch – didn’t we say this is a distillery that never does things the conventional way? So unusual was the conception of the Heavy Vapours releases that it was deemed worthy of celebrating via the skills of highly talented (and celebrated) comic artist and illustrator, Dilraj Mann. Have a read of the Planet Ardbeg Presents Rise of the heavy Vapours comic for yourself here.
Now, if you want to get your hands on the Ardbeg Heavy Vapours Committee Release, well, unsurprisingly the only way to do it is to sign up to the Ardbeg Committee, a community “united in a taste for the extreme and enticed by the higher power of smoke.” Doing so will give you access to the Heavy Vapours Committee Release and future committee-exclusive whisky releases, along with the chance to attend cool committee member events, and gain access to exclusive first tastings of future limited-edition whiskies.
As the name would suggest, the Heavy Vapours Committee Release comes in at a stellar 50.2% ABV, while the publicly available Heavy Vapours Limited Edition punches well above its weight at 46% ABV.
Whichever take on Heavy Vapours you choose, you’re in for a world of smoky delight. These limited-edition whiskies are certain to go down in history amongst the peat-passionate community as landmark releases. To learn more or discover Ardbeg’s full range of incredible whiskies, visit Ardbeg via the link below.