Ardbeg marked the final day of the Islay Festival; in common with Lagavulin at the start of the week it was a little quieter than other distilleries, as some people had early flights or ferries to catch. Happily, we had a late afternoon sailing!
Rather cunningly, as well as the distillery open day, Ardbeg declared it to be Ardbog Day; a global event to mark the limited release of what was essentially their festival bottling, named Ardbog. As you can see, even the distillery itself got a name change for the day.
The distillery is lucky to be set in a surprisingly large space – most of the other distilleries on the island are squeezed into tiny sites and it can be a struggle to squeeze everything in but Ardbeg have plenty of green open spaces (and unlike the rest of the distilleries, ample on-site parking as a result!)
The practical upshot was that as well as the tours, drams and music they had room to spread out for things like their Ardbeg Sports Day (featuring peat sack races and the like), a tent making Arbroath (or rather, Ardbeg) Smokies and even a little quiet corner for folks to sit on hay bales around a peat fire, strumming guitars and banjoes and singing Whisky In The Jar.
The whisky flowed as always, and the queue for the festival bottling seemed to be endless – we elected to sit in the cafe and have a truly excellent lunch (as well as a dram or two, of course) instead. The weather struggled a little at times, but the Ardbeg was plenty warm enough against the occasional burst of drizzle.
There were plenty of people there, but because of the spread out nature of the distillery it never felt crowded; it was the perfect mellow, laid back ending to a wonderful week.