Sunday 2 June 2013

Ardbeg (Ardbog) Day 2013

Another year, another brilliant Ardbeg Day. I thought it would've been pretty hard to top last year's "Islay-lympics" at Aqua Dining, but the team from Moët Hennessy have put on another fantastic event. Australian Whisky event of the year? Well there's a few good ones coming up, but it's certainly possible.


For those unfamiliar, Ardbeg Day is a celebration of all things Ardbeg, held annually around 1st June for Committee Members around the world. The main festivities occur on Islay as part of Fèis Ìle, but that doesn't stop Ardbeg and MH in 10+ other countries putting on their own Ardbeg Days, with activities, prizes and of course a lot of Ardbeg. The annual event also coincides with the release of a new, limited Ardbeg release. Last year's was the super-imaginatively titled "Ardbeg Day", and this years, as you might have guessed, was "Ardbog".

Held at Pelicano's popup bar "The Park" in Sydney's Centennial Parklands, the event kicked off around midday with an Ardbeg cocktail on arrival (Bloody Mary, Passionfruit or a strangely tasty concoction with Absinthe, soda and Ardbeg). Those not fond of cocktails were welcome to avail themselves of the complimentary tastings of Ardbeg 10, Corryvreckan or Uigeadail (the Ardbog came later).

Small hidden coins were also scattered around the grounds, with a bottle of Ardbeg for anyone who could find one (sadly we couldn't). That wasn't the only game though - with "Pin the tusk on the mammoth", "Quoits" and bowling all very popular right throughout the day. Prizes included stuffed "Shortie" dogs, Ardbeg keyrings/cardholders/big glasses/coasters/t-shirts, and for some lucky winners (like our friends from DTWC), a copy of "Ardbeg: A Peaty Provenance". There were plenty of prizes to go around and it seems everyone won at least one or two.

The bar continued to serve cocktails and Ardbeg right throughout the event, and the (subtantial) food offerings were enjoyed by all, while the band (The Bearded Gypsy Band - a very appropriate choice!) played their blend of gypsy jazz folk (note: that's not them in the video below).


A brief welcome was given by Simon Thomsen (MC), after which the Ardbog was handed out for a tasting. Following a bagpipe procession (see video below), the games, banter and whisky drinking continued, with plenty more Ardbog to go around (including some from this 4.5L Ardbog bottle - one of only a few in the country). Full tasting notes to follow in a future "Tasted" post, but in summary it wasn't the peat explosion we all know and love from Ardbeg, but rather a subtler, complex dram with many different flavours. Interesting, but I still love Alligator the best...


All up a fantastic day, and while not as wet as last year, true to Islay form the rain did make an appearance right at the end (unfortunately we missed out on an Ardbeg umbrella!).

A huge thanks to Ardbeg and Moët Hennessy for another hugely entertaining day. Bring on 2014!

 - Martin.

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