Friday 22 May 2015

This week in whisk(e)y #19 - Artbeg, Laphroaig 15, Oak Barrel's WhiskyFair 2015 and more

As you might know if you read this blog regularly, we get a fair few interesting press releases and news articles here at TimeforWhisky, and usually try to feature them with our own spin, experiences or comments. Sometimes though, they come thick and fast, and we just don't have time to do them all justice.

So we've decided to take a leaf out of some other excellent whisky blogs, and feature a "PR roundup" every now and then - basically a wrap-up of relevant press releases we've received in the previous week or so (including other interesting whisk(e)y news Steph, Hendy & or I think you might enjoy). So on with it then...

Artbeg comes to Islay
No, that's not a typo...

You'd think the good folks at Ardbeg would have their hands full around this time of year, what with Ardbeg Day just around the corner, but apparently they've found time in their busy schedules to unveil the first ever Artbeg exhibition, to be launched at the distillery and online today.

Artbeg comprises 20 complex, layered artworks, created by photographer Peter Heaton, that "evoke the intriguing heritage and unorthodox personality of Ardbeg and its homeland, the small Scottish island of Islay."

The Artbeg exhibition can be viewed on the walls of the Distillery and on from today. To quote the press release:
"Heaton found inspiration for his unusual works on a visit to Islay in 2014. By layering photographs of the Distillery and surroundings with material from Ardbeg’s archives, his exhibits encourage the viewer to take a deeper look at the single malt’s heritage and island home
In one work a striking image of the 9th Century Kildalton Cross, which stands near the Distillery, is layered with a vintage map of Islay and a press clipping alluding to Ardbeg’s renaissance in 1997. In another, the buildings of Ardbeg appear to rise out of archived, handwritten letters sent to the Distillery, as the artist engages with the whisky’s past and present, while hinting at its future
The exhibition will be displayed on the outer wall of the Distillery’s West Maltings building and a selection of works will also feature on Distillery visitors will be able to share their impressions of the Distillery on the website by uploading their own photographs. Peter Heaton said: “I have always had a fascination with Islay and its single malts, particularly Ardbeg. The exhibition interprets the Distillery over time and I wanted to create layered, complex imagery which would encourage people to give the work some time and think about the theme of past, present and future.
Mickey Heads, award-winning Ardbeg Distillery Manager, said: “This exhibition provides an intriguing twist on the story of Ardbeg – and contains more than a few surprises. The complexity of these remarkable images makes you stop and think about the whisky’s heritage and its future”."
If these two previews are anything to go by, it's sure to be an impressive exhibit:

To attend Ardbeg Day events across Australia on Saturday 30th May, sign-up to the Ardbeg Committee at

Oak Barrel's Whisky Fair Sydney returns for 2015
The Oak Barrel in Sydney (who we like so much on this blog they have their own tag), are bringing their excellent Whisky Fair back again in 2015, to be held Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd August.

Tickets are $80 / $90AUD (members / non-members) and, if the show is anything like it has been in previous years, that'll be money very well spent (especially seeing as, in previous years, there's been at least one special bottling bottled specifically for the show, not to mention a variety of drams you just don't see at other whisky shows in Australia).

Further details can be found here and here, and we recommend getting tickets ASAP as these do sell out.

Laphroaig 15 returns to Australia
Almost 180 drams ago, we tried the original Laphroaig 15yo (which at the time we'd managed to get for a very decent price). Fast forward almost 2 and a half years, and the 15yo is back, hitting Australian shelves for a limited time to celebrate Laphroaig's 200th anniversary.

"A long revered expression in the Laphroaig range, Laphroaig 15 Year Old was originally launched more than 30 years ago, with a lower level of peat and a higher bottling strength of 43% all combining to give the whisky a mellow, rounded taste, its briny orchard fruits adding bite and depth, the overall feel rich and smoky.

Laphroaig Distillery Manager John Campbell decided to re-release this product, one of his long-time favourites, in celebration of Laphroaig’s 200th anniversary. Beautifully made, Laphroaig 15 Year Old pays homage to the original edition, answering the call for its return by many a long term friend, while at the same time introducing new fans of Laphroaig to a whisky that they have yet to taste."

Laphroaig 15yo is bottled at the same 43% ABV as the previous release, and is available now, retailing for around $180AUD. We hope to be able to put up our own tasting notes soon for the peat-heads amongst you, and do a comparison with the earlier 15.

The Last Drop - 48yo blend and 1967 Glen Garioch
Over to Hong Kong now, where two very rare whiskies (one blend, one single malt) will soon be available, and a third, even rarer whisky (The Last Drop 50yo blend) is going under the hammer.
"Rare spirits hunters, The Last Drop Distillers Limited, are bringing an extraordinary treat to Hong Kong’s most discerning spirit enthusiasts and collectors by presenting a series of three rare and exceptional whiskies, including their award-winning fourth release – The Last Drop 48 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky. Awarded “Scotch Whisky of the Year 2015” in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, the 48 Year old was launched in the UK in April, with only 592 bottles in existence. Now available in Hong Kong, 22 bottles will be available to purchase exclusively through Crown Wine Cellars.

Alongside the 48 Year Old, The Last Drop Distillers will also present a remarkable 1967 Single Malt Whisky from Glen Garioch - one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. This release, planned to launch in August 2015, is The Last Drop’s first Single Malt and was awarded “Scotch Single Malt of 2015” (Jim Murray) with only 118 bottles available worldwide.

The third whisky presented will be The Last Drop 50 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky, released in 2014 and now all but sold-out worldwide. Awarded Best Blended Scotch Whisky of 2014 by both Jim Murray and The Whisky Advocate, Bottle No 1 will be auctioned at Sotheby’s on 23rd May, in celebration of Crown Worldwide Group’s 50th Anniversary, with all proceeds going to Hong Kong’s Sunshine Action Charity.

The Last Drop Distillers was founded in 2008 by three long standing friends and veterans of the spirits business, James Espey, Tom Jago and Peter Fleck, who together have over 120 years of experience. Between them, they have been responsible for the creation of some of the best known and best loved spirits brands including Chivas Regal 18 Year Old and The Classic Malts, as well as Malibu and Bailey’s Irish Cream, two of the most original and successful new drinks categories in the world.

Now the next generation has come on board with Beanie Espey (Sales & Marketing Director) and Rebecca Jago (Creative & Production Director), James and Tom’s daughters respectively, joining the team. Together with the founders, they are committed to continuing the quest to identify spirits worthy of The Last Drop bottle."

Available to purchase exclusively through Crown Wine Cellars, connoisseurs and collectors will be able to purchase The Last Drop 48 year old from May 2015, RRP HK$33,888.

The 1967 Glen Garioch will be on strict allocation, in advance of its release in August 2015. To pre-order a bottle, please contact the team at Crown Wine Cellars.

Sotheby’s will auction bottle No. 1 of The Last Drop 50 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky on 23rd May. The last remaining five bottles of The Last Drop 50 Year Old are likewise available to purchase from Crown Wine Cellars.


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