This final article summarizing my recent Islay vacation will focus briefly (a promise I commonly make and constantly break – this time it will be kept) outline my thoughts of the Ardbeg distillery. The reason for its brevity is simply that we didn’t go for a full distillery tour. As I mentioned in my previous article on the Laphroaig distillery, it really isn’t worthwhile doing a full tour at every distillery you visit.
So, rather than booking the full tour at Ardbeg we decided to book lunch in their (absolutely excellent) restaurant and combine this with a tasting session. This was quite possibly the best decision we made in the planning of the trip – firstly because the range and quality of their food was amongst the best I experienced on Islay (their Haggis Panini was scrumptious!) and second because the tasting was an absolute joy!
As I’ve mentioned several times already, we were a fairly large group of some 26 people, which meant that we were booked in to a room of our own. The beauty of this is that they could match the whisky with the food, and as such served the lighter Blasda (god, it is a joy! Check out my review from earlier if you’re curious; but please do try to avoid reading my hideous “poem”) with the main course so as not to dominate it. A very good decision indeed. Afterwards we were served the standard 10 year old expression – always a pleasure (I’ve reviewed that as well, here). Finally, one of our was a massive Ardbeg fan and nagged and nagged until finally they gave in and served us all a drink of Corryvreckan, which none of us had yet tried (I will review this in a later post).
All the while, the vivacious lady who served us the whisky would give a brief outline of the distillery’s, and each whisky’s, history, as well as taste notes. She turned this all into an incredibly energetic performance, much enjoyed by the entire party.
So, if I were to summarize the visit to Ardbeg in three words, they would be: You Must Go. And if I were to add to that, I’d recommend booking both lunch and a proper tasting session while you’re at it, regardless of whether you do the tour.