If you’re familiar with Islay scotch label Ardbeg, then you already know about their tradition of Ardbeg Day. Held on the last Saturday of Islay’s Festival of Music and Malt, Ardbeg Day is a chance for lovers of the peaty Scotch whisky to celebrate with something special, as the brand is continuing its tradition of special Ardbeg Day releases with this year’s offering, Ardbeg Drum.
According to Brendan McCarron, Head of Maturing Whisky Stocks for The Glenmorangie Company (which makes Ardbeg), the island’s festival used to have many things in common with carnivals around the world.
“In the old days of Feis Ille, before it was seen as a whisky festival, it was a more general celebration of music and culture. At this time, locals would transform everything from harvesters to hatchbacks into magnificent floats, adorned with decorations, on the last day of the Festival,” he said.
As a nod to the island’s carnival traditions, Ardbeg Drum is best described as a Scotch whisky with a Caribbean twist. For the first time, the distillery has taken a single malt that was aged in ex-bourbon casks and rested it in ex-rum casks from the Americas (this is as much as the brand will say in terms of where the casks are sourced from).
According to McCarron, it’s taken about a decade to produce Ardbeg Drum.
“Ardbeg Drum was a good while in the making — around ten years from the initial idea, through to finally selecting the right rum that would stand up to Ardbeg and its peaty power, maturing the whisky, and eventually releasing it to the world!”
Last year’s release, Ardbeg Grooves, was a rich and intense spirit. Ardbeg Drum, on the other hand, is quite different, according to McCarron.
“In Ardbeg Drum the influence of the rum cask is a lot more subtle. The sweetness of the rum intertwines with the citrus and smoke of the classic Ardbeg character, while still packing a peaty punch,” he said.
Distillery Manager Mickey Heads, agrees, adding that drinkers can expect to find “a multitude of complex flavours parade across the palate – fragrant pine resin and woodsmoke dance alongside ripe banana and pineapple. Then lavender, licorice, and vanilla strut into a long, smoky finish.”
Can’t make it to Ardbeg to celebrate Ardbeg Day? No problem, there will be Ardbeg celebrations for Ardbeg committee members in various places around the world on the same day. (You can join the committee for free here.)
After that, though, Ardbeg Drum will be released for sale. Coming in at 46% alcohol by volume, it will retail for around $110.
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