Pronounced ‘Oog-a-dal’, it’s a special vatting that marries Ardbeg’s traditional deep, smoky notes with luscious, raisiny tones of old ex-Sherry casks. Ardbeg Uigeadail was voted by the 120,000+ strong Ardbeg Committee as their favourite Ardbeg.
Malting - Ardbeg uses the most phenolic malt in the business (i.e. the smokiest). The malt is peated to a level of 50ppm. There have been no floor maltings at Ardbeg since 1981 so all the malt that is used in production hails from the maltings in the village of Port Ellen. At the Distillery it is crushed into a substance called grist by our iconic and extremely rare Boby malt mill, installed in 1921. The water we use to produce Ardbeg comes from Loch Uigeadail, 3 miles up the hill behind the Distillery. The water flows down the hill and runs into Loch Airigh Nam Beist – from there the burn takes it to Charlie’s Dam at the Distillery and from there it is piped into the Mash House.
Mashing - The ground up malt is then added into a vessel called a mash tun, along with the water from Loch Uigeadail heated to a temperature of 63.5°C. The main purpose of the mash tun is to maximise sugar extraction, therefore water is added three times at 3 different temperatures. Once the third water has been drained off the spent grains or draff are removed to the farmer’s lorry and is taken it to feed the local cattle. (Lucky cows.)
Fermentation - The Liquid Wort from the Mash tun is cooled to 18°C and pumped into the Wash Backs. Yeast is added at this stage to begin Fermentation. The wash backs at Ardbeg are made of Oregon pine. The wood helps to impart an estery, carbolic flavour to the fermenting wash. Fermentation time at Ardbeg is longer than other distilleries because of the high phenolic content of the original malt. When the Fermentation is complete the fermented wash has an alcohol content of around 8.5% alcohol.
Distillation - After fermentation comes distillation. We distil twice in order to reach the required strength and desired pure spirit. The first distillation happens in the wash still. It is filled with fermented wash, boiled until the alcohol vapours start rising up the neck of the wash still, pass through the Lyne Arm and finally reach the Condenser, where they are condensed back into liquid form. The liquid spirit then flows through the spirit safe and travels into the low wines and feints receiver. Any spirit still being produced through the wash still is called low wines. At this stage the alcohol content of the spirit is about 24% alcohol.....
Maturation - The casks we use at Ardbeg come from various sources. The vast amount of whisky matures in ex-Bourbon oak. However, there is always scope in the future to experiment with different type of oak casks. In maturation only 1st and 2nd fill casks are used. All our new 1st fill Bourbon casks come from suppliers in the US. Our chief nose Dr. Bill Lumsden selects them. Other casks come from Speyside Cooperage, and Craigellachie. Primarily barrels have been used in the past, but now there is a substantial mix between barrels (for Ardbeg Ten Years Old,) and Sherry Butts (some of which are used for Ardbeg Uigeadail). We also use some new French Oak Barrels for Ardbeg Corryvreckan. And these are our three core expressions. Because Ardbeg sits very close to the sea, the whisky receives a certain salty, iodine character while it matures.