(August 21, 2017) — Smoky malt whisky fans, gather round.
At the heart of Ardbeg’s Distillery, in its intriguing new Gathering Room, a smoky, sweet and rounded single malt is taking shape. Ardbeg An Oa (pronounced “an oh”) is inspired by the most untamed part of The Ultimate Islay Malt’s remote Scottish island home. Released in September 2017, it will be the first new permanent expression to emerge from Ardbeg for almost a decade.
Like the complex whisky which shares its name, Islay’s Mull of Oa is noticeably rounded. At the southernmost point of Ardbeg’s remote Scottish island home, the headland’s towering cliffs stand defiantly against the raging Atlantic storms, providing welcome shelter for Islay’s south coast, to which the Ardbeg Distillery has clung for more than 200 years. Ardbeg An Oa pays homage to its untamed provenance, with contrasts of powerful intensity and sweet silkiness that celebrate the spot where storm meets calm.
Just a few miles down the coast, those contrasts are summoned in the Ardbeg Distillery’s bespoke Gathering Room. There, lies the vast Gathering Vat – especially created from fine French oak to bring Ardbeg An Oa into being. Within its depths, different parcels of whisky mingle unhurriedly – much as might Islay’s residents at their own genial gatherings. They include the richness of spirit matured in Pedro Ximénes casks, the spice of a parcel aged in virgin oak, and all the hallmark intensity of Ardbeg matured in ex-bourbon barrels. Gathered together by an Ardbeggian alchemy, the whiskies’ union culminates in an untamed single malt far more complex and rounded than the sum of its parts.
Ardbeg’s Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks, Dr Bill Lumsden, said: “There is a wonderfully Ardbeggian magic to The Gathering Room, where the parcels married together in this whisky merge over time, to reach new levels of complexity. Ardbeg An Oa’s rounded and subtly smoky aromas reflect all the contrasts of the Mull of Oa, with notes of creamy toffee, aniseed, dates and hints of peach and banana.
The whisky’s smooth, creamy texture leads to a huge syrupy sweetness on the palate, as milk chocolate, orange and smoky tea leaves mingle with sweet spices, cigar smoke and unusually grilled artichokes, before a lingering, seductive and smoky finish. It is years since the world’s smokiest, peatiest Islay malt added to its core range. We hope smoky malt whisky fans everywhere will be drawn to Ardbeg An Oa.”