Saturday 20 June 2015

Ardbeg Day 2015 Sydney review (Tasted #192)

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Ardbeg Distillery in 1815. Over the years (but particularly since its revival by Glenmorangie in 1997) Ardbeg has undoubtedly become a household name amongst whisky drinkers, aficionados and lovers alike. In fact, through the global Ardbeg Committee program, Ardbeg has gathered quite a large stronghold globally, in excess of 100,000 Ardbeg fans alike - or as they are better known, Ardbeggians!

To celebrate this 200th anniversary, Ardbeg first announced the date for the Ardbeg Day back in February 2015, then it launched ARTbeg in May, an interactive art exhibition showcasing Ardbeg’s past, present and future. In early May, Ardbeg Day 2015 was finally unveiled with the notion that we ought to look forward rather than look back, 'to look forward to the next 200 years.


Ardbeg Day 2015, or rather Ardbeg Day 2215 was held at the White Bay Cruise Terminal, a futuristic designed cruise terminal. I have personally never been to this side of Rozelle, away from the bustling Darling Street. The White Bay Cruise Terminal is rather secluded along the south-eastern fringe of Rozelle and lines the narrow White Bay. It was here, in this futuristic, spacious terminal that we and hundreds of Ardbeggians alike gathered to kick off the Ardbeg Day 2015 celebration.

Given the futuristic theme, upon walking in, you are greeted by hostesses donning futuristic hair and make-up, resembling figures that may have travelled from a time in the distant future. Inside the terminal segways, hoverboards, futuristic giant Ardbeg light helium balloons and robo-Shorties were scattered throughout, oh and there’s the DeLorean — having travelled from 1985, then to 1885 then to 2015 (and finally to 2215, arriving at the Ardbeg Day celebration). Ardbeggians were allowed access to the DeLorean where they were able to put on super slick sunnies and have their photos taken using an old school polaroid camera.

Then there were these cake pops, arriving on a decadent lush forest clad wooden block - something that may perhaps have been brought out by Heston Blumenthal out of his Heston's Feasts show. Luscious, exciting, delicious and futuristic.

At the corner of the room was also a table of produce and a large platter of Mushroom gnocchi to complement the canapés being served.


I arrived late to the day and missed out on the official launch of the Ardbeg Perpetuum by Andrew Derbridge of the SMWS, though Garth, LVMH Ambassador was kind enough to source me a serve of the Perpetuum - tasting notes below. On first taste, the Perpetuum is lighter and more delicate than the other Ardbeg expressions - though still retaining the Ardbeg smoke.

These are Ardbeg Haars, or the Ardbeg vaporisers. These Haars were out to play on the day. Manned by the man in a lab coat, they looked quite scientific and rather cool. I missed trying out the Haar at the Whisky Show in May and I was looking forward to trying them out when I saw them. The Ardbeg Haar makes use of the Ardbeg 10 year old and converts the liquid Ardbeg into its vapour form. A straw is given to you through which you inhale the sweet, glorious Ardbeg 10 year old vapour just like a cigarette. Sweet, glorious and peat filled vapour. I have to say, the Ardbeg 10 year old vapour is a lot better than the Ardbeg 10 year old in its liquid form.

Following all the inhaling, photo-taking and dramming, the Ardbeg Day celebration came to a close at the Terminal. We were informed that another celebration was kicking off at one of the Ardbeg embassies, the Stitch Bar in the Sydney CBD. A shuttle bus couriered us Ardbeggians that decided to kick-on straight to Stitch Bar.

Stitch Bar, as one of the Ardbeg embassies, also donned Ardbeg Day gear from the neon-lit Ardbeg Day sign, to all the bar-staff wearing Ardbeg Day t-shirt and also making another appearance - the Ardbeg Haar.

The Haar was still being prepared when the crowd arrived though was in full swing later that night and became quite a spectacle with the crowd.


Similar to last year and the year before, Ardbeg Jeroboam (4.5L) bottles were visible throughout the day and with the Perpetuum, it was no different. The Perpetuum Jeroboam was present at Stitch Bar, providing us all with additional tasting opportunities of the Perpetuum.

So what is the Perpetuum like?

Ardbeg Perpetuum (47.4% ABV, NAS, Islay, Scotland, $169AUD)
A nice, balanced and gentle Ardbeg, wait -- did someone say gentle?! A nice dram to have on a mild winter night when you crave an Ardbeg though prefer, perhaps, a Speyside on the palate. Nevertheless, the Ardbeg smoke lingers throughout.

Colour: Light brass

Nose: There's that wet moss and damp grass that builds up to hints of iodine, sea salt and oh, the light  gentle peat comes through (quite surprising for an Ardbeg).

Palate: The palate is wet and mouth coating, translating the wet moss from the nose to the palate. There's dark bitter chocolate, seaweed, brine, a touch of vanilla and builds onto gingerbread crumbs.

Finish: The finish is medium long, mouth-coating and fresh. The finish leaves you with light spices and also leaves you salivating for more.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100.

Continuing the Ardbeg Day celebration, I took on the opportunity to savour other Ardbeg expressions at the bar, from Uigedail to Corryvreckan. The night lingered and the Ardbeg adventure continued. Ardbeg Day 2015 was a fun day, similar to the fun we had last year and the year before

Over the past two hundred years, Ardbeg has become quite a revered name globally in the whisky industry and its various releases are innovative and tantalising, especially recently with Auriverdes, Supernova and this year's Perpetuum. As Ardbeg has noted, we all ought to look forward rather than backward and if the future is anything like the past 200 years, the next 200 years will undoubtedly be more fun and exciting - so here's to the next 200 years!

If you missed this year's celebration, you can always join in on the fun at next year's Ardbeg Day. Make sure you sign up to the global Ardbeg Committee to be updated with new releases, events and more.

Happy Ardbeg Day 2015!


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