Whisky Advocate

An Ardbeg Renaissance: at 55.9% ABV

January 23rd, 2008

Finally, after the limited releases of Very Young, Still Young, Almost There, and the other whiskies leading up to a 10 year old Ardbeg distilled–and bottled–by the current owners, our wait is over.

Ardbeg will be releasing, in equally limited quantities, a 10 year old (definitely there!) cask strength Ardbeg in the very near future, which they’re calling Renaissance.

I spent two hours today with Dr. Bill Lumsden, the master behind all the Glenmorangie and Ardbeg creations. Yes, we went through all the new Glenmorangie whiskies (I’ll save that for a later date–lots of good stuff), but I just want to focus on this new Ardbeg today.

[Side note: I’m a lucky guy. Not only do I get to spend time with brilliant people like Bill, but he pulls out cool whiskies like this from his 200ml sample bottles that he brings over in his luggage. I am fortunate to taste this with him months before it gets bottled.]

The verdict of this Ardbeg? Great stuff. I love an Islay whisky that balances its smoky notes and brash youthfulness with a soothing sweetness, and this is a great example. The whisky is aged exclusively in first-fill bourbon barrels, which contributes to this whisky’s sweet, vanilla underbelly.

Bill told me that the ABV may change slightly by the time it gets bottled, but you get my point here. Track down a bottle and get one if you are an Ardbeg enthusiast–or just love smoky whiskies. Bill eluded to the fact that it might be an “Ardbeg Committee Only” bottling (check their website at for more information). The logistics, and the whisky’s price, is still up in the air. But, you now have a mission.

11 Responses to “An Ardbeg Renaissance: at 55.9% ABV”

  1. William Meyers says:

    Dear John,

    Have you tasted the Ardbeg Mór & how does the Renaissance compare?



    PS Any chance you could bring extra sample to Chicago – we might have an Ardbeg tasting & open a Mór.

  2. Armin says:

    Now you’ve made me curious, I’ll have to watch out for that one. I’ll just have to figure out what the “very near future” means considering we are talking Islay time here 😉

  3. John Hansell says:

    Bill: Good question. I tasted Mor last year when I was at Ardbeg, but that was way back in May. I don’t have any to compare with the Renaissance now. I’ll reach out to Bill and pose the question to him. (I do have a small amount of Renaissance. If there’s any left by WhiskyFest Chicago, I’ll bring it along with me.)

    Armin: I believe Bill told me it would be available within the next couple of months. If I get a more specific date, I’ll post it up here.

  4. Jon W says:

    John – Sorry if this is an obvious question, but will this be available for retail in the States? This looks like a winner and I’m excited to try it.

  5. John Hansell says:

    Sorry I wasn’t clear in this. No, this whisky will not see the USA.

  6. Sku says:

    No, this whisky will not see the USA.

    Grrr. Woe is us.

  7. John Hansell says:

    Yes, it is frustrating.

  8. ioeverga says:

    I just tasted a 3 cl sample of Ardbeg Renaissance (55,9%). It is fabolous stuff, but lacks sligthly the complexity of Ardbeg Almost There (Lot nr. L7 058, sold in Norway). The Renaissance is drier, more spicy and not so sweet as the AT.

    Ardbeg Mor is IMHO a better dram than Renaissance, sligthly more complex and showing more balance. The difference is minuscule but still present.

    However, I will by an Renaissance the first time I get the opportunity!

  9. John Hansell says:

    I would love to taste the three side-by-side. That would be fun. No doubt, any one of the three will be more than acceptible. –John

  10. Rubens Valentine says:

    Dear Sirs
    I am hearing that Renaissance has now been ended and Ardbeg has no more. is this true please?

  11. John Hansell says:

    I was told that there will be no more Ardbeg under that name anytime in the near future.

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