An auctioneer's guide to Ardbeg, the peatiest nose on Islay

Ardbeg distillery began producing whisky commercially in 1815 and quickly became a valued fixture in the Islay community, with housing, a school and even a bowling green on the site. The distillery went through tough times in the early 20th century and was acquired by DCL and Hiram Walker in 1959. An increased demand for peated whisky in the 1960s and 1970s saw Ardbeg source malt from nearby Port Ellen, marking the end of an era of self-sufficiency for the distillery. Mothballed in the 1980s, it was purchased by Glenmorangie in 1997 and today it is part of LVMH.

Despite or perhaps because of its turbulent history, the distillery maintains a cult following, with over 120000 members of the Ardbeg Committee, the distillery's fan club, worldwide. Special bottlings are released every year and regularly find their way to auction, with the higher strength Committee Releases being particularly popular with collectors.

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