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Ardbeg launches Fèis Ìle single malt

Islay-based Ardbeg has released a limited edition single malt called Heavy Vapours to mark this year’s Fèis Ìle music and malt festival.

Fèis Ìle
The whisky has been released in celebration of Fèis Ìle

A first for the brand, Ardbeg Heavy Vapours has been distilled without a purifier, which is the apparatus on the still responsible for maintaining the brand’s balance between extreme peat and floral fruitiness.

Director of whisky creation Dr Bill Lumsden allowed the ‘heaviest and untamed vapours’ to rise up the still during the distillation process, before being captured, matured and bottled.

On the nose, smokey sweet aromas are delivered, while on the palate, bittersweet flavours of coal dust, peppermint, cardamom, and dark chocolate are presented.

Lumsden commented: “A missing purifier is unprecedented for Ardbeg. This experiment was something I’ve always imagined trying – what would happen to the flavour and character of Ardbeg as we know and love it, by distilling in this unique way?

“Well, it’s now time for Ardbeg fans to find out; this is a full-blown dram where Ardbeg’s exalted balance has been disrupted in the most fantastic of ways – a truly captivating dram.”

The release has been timed to mark Fèis Ìle, taking place 26 May to 3 June, and Ardbeg Day, which is held on the last Saturday of the event (3 June).

In addition the brand is adding a ‘dramatic new storyline’ to its comic book Planet Ardbeg that will be revealed alongside the new expression’s launch.

The storyline covers the distillation process of Heavy Vapours, and has been brought to life by comic artist and illustrator Dilraj Mann.

The plot follows Agent 46 (an alias for Jackie Thomson, Ardbeg visitor centre manager and committee chair) – a plucky interplanetary detective on a quest to locate the elusive purifier and restore Ardbeg’s signature balance.

Fans are invited to celebrate Planet Ardbeg Day by attending Fèis Ìle on 3 June as their favourite Ardbeg-inspired hero, comic character or mythical creature.

Colin Gordon, Ardbeg distillery manager, said: “The time has almost come again where we call on Ardbeg fans and whisky lovers across the world to celebrate Planet Ardbeg Day with us, be that on Islay at the distillery or at one of our events around the world.

“Our 2023 theme will be a celebration of our Planet Ardbeg graphic novel universe, where we’ll be uncovering the mysteries behind our latest limited edition release, Ardbeg Heavy Vapours. We can’t wait to celebrate this iconic date in the whisky calendar with our global community again soon.”

For those who can’t make it on the day, Lumsden will be hosting an Ardbeg Heavy Vapours masterclass on

Ardbeg Heavy Vapours will be available to buy worldwide from Ardbeg Embassies, whisky specialists, online retailers, and from the distillery visitor centre for RRP £120 (US$150).

The brand recently launched its first limited edition barbecue-inspired whisky, called Ardbeg BizarreBQ.

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