Ardbeg is releasing not one, but two once-in-a-lifetime whiskies this week—an extraordinary set that defines two of the distillery’s most dramatic years, 1981 and 1989. The new release is Ardbeg Rollercoaster, a testament to the ups and downs of the brand’s history, which nearly came to a permanent stop before its resurrection in the late 1990s.
One was distilled in March 1981, when the distillery closed, and the other in October 1989, when it was reopened under new ownership. Ardbeg was founded in 1815 but, in the 1970s, when blended whiskies became more popular, only a few casks each year were set aside to be matured as single malt. Now, that very whisky is reborn as one-half of this incredibly special release. This 42-year-old expression was created from Ardbeg’s own heavily peated malt (up to 110ppm) blended with lightly peated malt, used at the distillery only for a very short period. It was aged in Bourbon casks and then transferred into a single oloroso Sherry cask to create ‘rich, spicy’ notes. It has an ABV of 47.3%.
The second whisky has an ABV of 45.3% and is one of the distillery’s final casks from 1989, distilled on December 6, just weeks after production restarted,. This 33-year-old whisky was initially aged in a bourbon cask but was transferred to a single-fill bourbon cask a decade thereafter, which provided a perfect contrast to the 1981 bottling, according to Gillian MacDonald, Master Blender and Head of Whisky for Glenmorangie, Ardbeg’s parent company.
The two bottles are packaged in a presentation box created from solid Scottish oak by designer John Galvin. Only 143 sets are available, with an RRP of €100,000 (US$107,167). They are available to buy through Moët Hennessy’s private client channel.