Legendary scotch whisky brand, Ardbeg, has added yet another powerhouse to its arsenal, this one perhaps the most extraordinary of them all. 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.
Ardbeg Rollercoaster comes as a set of two ultra-rare whiskies, both of which were distilled at times of uncertainty for the Ardbeg brand. The first comes from the last remaining cask of the distillery’s 1981 stock, a 42-year-old expression, and a piece of whisky history. After 1981, Ardbeg’s distillery doors closed, and that final cask was the end of an era for the brand. Now, that very whisky is reborn as one-half of this incredibly special release.
The second expression of Ardbeg Rollercoaster is a bottling from the stock of 1989, the year Ardbeg’s doors reopened. 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. Not only do these two expressions differ in character, they also act as living milestones in this storied brand’s lifespan.
The set of these two highly exclusive, unparalleled expressions comes in a handmade box crafted from Scottish oak, with copper accents symbolic of the stills used at the Ardbeg distillery. The box was designed by John Galvin and only 143 of them were produced. Each set sells for €100,000. Even for most Ardbeg Committee members, these whiskies may be out of reach as sets will be offered to collectors through the Moet Hennesy Private Client channel.
If you are fortunate enough to get your hands on this remarkable release, take MacDonald’s word for it and savor these bottlings for as long as you possibly can. “Just enjoy,” she says, “This is irreplaceable, unrepeatable whisky; once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
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