Ardbeg has unveiled its latest committee-only limited edition, Ardbeg Fermutation. The new offering is the result of an unplanned experiment that resulted in the longest fermentation in Ardbeg’s history.
In November 2007, The Ardbeg Distillery faced one of its greatest challenges. A broken boiler threatened the existence of six washbacks full of precious liquid. The team tried everything they could to get the boiler going, but to no avail. Ever the optimist, Dr Bill Lumsden (Ardbeg’s Director of Distilling and Whisky Creation) saw this conundrum as an opportunity to experiment.
He instructed the Distillery workers to throw open the washback lids and expose the contents to the Islay air. Thus began a three week-long fermentation – the longest in Ardbeg’s history – which eventually gave rise to a wild, zingy and vibrant spirit.
“I’ve always wanted to experiment with longer fermentations, so I think an unintentional boiler breakdown was the best thing that could have happened,” said Lumsden. “For context, most Ardbeg is only fermented for 72 hours, making three weeks unchartered territory for us.”
The outcome is a dram that tastes like pure science fiction. Peat and smoke meld beautifully with fresh, floral flavors, while sharp, more malty notes give Ardbeg Fermutation a uniquely zingy profile. On the nose, it’s fresh, floral, herbal, and tart. Hints of mixed herbs and cedar wood combine with zesty, vibrant, hints of smoked orange and grapefruit, alongside bursts of menthol and peppermint. The palate is lively lively, vibrant, and sharp with a “zingy” texture, leading into firm, distinctive flavors – malty/biscuit tones, aniseed, cardamom, sweet mint toffee, and cigar ash. Finally, there’s a lingering, salty, firm finish of mint, tar, oak tannin and leather.
“Blind luck is sometimes just part of the way we do things here at Ardbeg,” noted Colin Gordon, Ardbeg’s Distillery Manager. “But the creation of Fermutation wasn’t simply good fortune. Quick thinking, ingenuity and a little assistance from tiny beings in the atmosphere helped us get here. At 13 years old, this is of course an aged Ardbeg – something I’m sure our fans will be delighted to get their hands on.”
Bottled at 49.4% ABV, Ardbeg Fermutation was matured in first and refill ex-bourbon casks. It is priced at $199.99.
As a Committee-only bottling, it is only available to members of The Ardbeg Committee. Those interested can join The Committee via the official website. Membership is free and all Ardbeg fans are welcome.
The Committee’s last release was Ardbeg 8 Years Old For Discussion. The Scotch was also born out of an experiment by Dr Bill Lumsden.