Scotland and Scotch whisky: Islay  whisky through the producing distilleries: history, making, maps and tasting notes



Port Ellen,
Argyll PA42 7EA
+44 1496 302 244 

Owner: The Glenmorangie Ltd (LVMH)

Creation year: 1815

A first legal distillery belonging to Alexander Stewart closed in 1794, but the production went on, the distillery being situated in a place which was an excellent moonshine distillers' den during the 18th century. After a period rich in setbacks with the excise men, a legal distillery was build in 1815 by John McDougall. 
The construction of the distillery began as soon as 1794, but was hardly achieved in 1817.
The distillery stayed the property of the McDougall family from 1817 till 1977, when it was bought by Hiram Walker and Sons. The Hiram Walker group became later part of the Allied Distillers group.
From 1979 to 1981, a very light peaty malt, called "Kildalton Style" named after a celtic cross near the distillery, was produced. Mothballed from 1981 to 1989, and its production was reduced to about a third of its capacity till 1997.
During the period of mothballing, the distillery stopped to use its own malting floors, which was a pity for the lovers of this extremely smoky malt. This smoky character of Ardbeg whisky from this period was due to the fact there was no fan in the pagoda roof over the kiln.
Since 1989, the malt used by Ardbeg is produced by the Port Ellen maltings, and has lost this extremely smoky characteristic.
Glenmorangie Plc bought the distillery in 1997 for about 10.5 million Euros.
The new owners revived the tradition of producing a very peaty single malt.
All the production is sold as single malt (which is rather unusual in the world of whisky). Ardbeg whisky is not used in blends, with may be one exception: Black Bottle which claims to contain whisky of each of the active distilleries on Islay.




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