Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guest blog - Richard Culver reviews Ardbeg Perpetuum

While I refrain and somewhat 'relax' from my recent trip to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans I thought maybe in the meantime you might like to read another review of the Ardbeg Perpetuum. 

When I posted mine, I asked for others to send me their opinions. Which they did...

I received a lovely email from a friend of mine who has done guests blog posts before: Richard Culver from Hamilton Ontario. Here is his story (cue the dramatic music from Law & Order)

Begin post: I think Ardbeg got it wrong or maybe it was the people at Louis Vuitton Mo√ęt Hennessy but either way you and I are going to suffer.

Like many other Ardbeg committee members I received an email a couple of months ago telling me:

Dear Committee Member

We've come a long way in the last 200 years. So this Ardbeg Day, as well as looking back into the past, we donned our jet packs and glimpsed the future of Ardbeg. And we have to say, it looks fantastic.

15,000 of you made this one not only the best, but the biggest Ardbeg Day ever, at 135 events around the world.

Japan had a time travel tunnel, the US had Shortie Circuit racing, while in Germany five cities competed against each other with games involving drones and robotic barrel racing, amongst other things.

Here on Islay, we welcomed friends old and new for futuristic food, music, and of course, drams ofArdbeg Perpetuum. Take a look at the pictures
 from around the globe and share your own at facebook.com/Ardbeg and twitter @ardbeg_com using #ArdbegDay. 

So how can we possibly top Ardbeg Day 2015? You'll just have to wait until next year to find out...

Mickey Heads, Committee Chairman

So -> 15,000 of us. 135 events around the world. What a great success that is.

Ardbeg had the pleasure of some fantastic advanced hype because one of the bloggers, that they sent a free bottle to, realized that it was worth more to him (her?) to just put the bottle up for auction. Perhaps if you have a huge sense of entitlement and feel you are underpaid and underappreciated you do those sorts of things. After all, it’s so easy to just copy and paste the distillery issued tasting notes and add some verbose script. Credibility obviously is not that person’s strong suit but, it was to the benefit of Ardbeg. Bidding went crazy. Demand for Perpetuum was at an all-time high even before it was released. What manufacturer of product doesn’t want that?
By all accounts, I should have really enjoyed Ardbeg Perpetuum. I didn’t. There, I said it and it's not because I don’t like Ardbeg. I do, a lot. I currently have open bottles of the 10, Uigeadail, Corryvreckan and Ardbog in my cabinet. All are enjoyed regularly and the first three are always replaced when empty.

It wasn’t because of the venue where I got to try Perpetuum that I didn’t enjoy it. I went with friends to The Caledonian Pub in Toronto for Ardbeg Day. It is my absolute favourite pub in Toronto. They have great food and a great selection of malts. Donna and Dave make everyone feel at home there. I go there routinely. It’s one of eight Arbeg Embassies in Canada. Studies show familiar place and people are positive factors for ensuring that you enjoy you beverage.

It wasn’t because of the Brand Ambassador. Ruaraidh is a bright shining star among ambassadors. He is able to provide that perfect blend of education, entertainment and enthusiasm to create a warm inviting atmosphere in any environment. His passion for Ardbeg is invigorating.  His dad and grand-dad have worked at Ardbeg, it's in his blood.

It wasn’t because Ardbeg had the Harr producing smoke  fog  Scottish Mist or the sample of Supernova that had been to space. These items added to the excitement.  Although someone suggested that for the cost of the Supernova display they could have supplied every committee member in Toronto with a bottle of Perpetuum. I don’t know the costs of the traveling Supernova display but it did gather quite a bit of interest among attendees and the local media.

Nope... None of those were the reasons that I wasn’t impressed by the Perpetuum. After you get past the marketing campaign of any spirit it is “what is in the glass” that counts. For me the Perpetuum did not display that Big Bold Perfect Mix of Peat and Sweet.

I was invited back to The Caledonian two weeks later for a tasting of some cask samples with Hamish Torrie from Scotland. Hamish brought along cask strength samples which showed me that Ardbeg is capable of producing that Perfect Mix of Peat & Sweet we love. But Perpetuum isn’t “all that” to me. And judging by a number of bloggers reviews it isn’t “all that” to them either. Maybe the blogger that put his advance bottle up for auction instead of honestly reviewing it knew it wasn’t “all that” to him as well. Who knows?

What really concerns me about Perpetuum is the recent blog post by Thomas at WhiskySaga. He reviewed the two Perpetuums  http://www.whiskysaga.com/ardbeg-perpetuum-vs-ardbeg-perpetuum/  I had to read it twice.

Normally we see 6000 to 7000 bottles in a special release. In this case there are 12,000 bottles of the Ardbeg Perpetuum 200th Anniversary Distillery Release and 72,000 (yes that’s right, seventy two thousand) bottles of  Ardbeg Perpetuum 200th Anniversary Special Release. Whiskybase confirms those numbers. If I did the numbers correctly that is 4 (four) percent of their annual production. I couldn’t find any comparable sized distillery that put 4 percent of their annual production into a special release. As a comparator GlenFiddich’s Snow Phoenix was a run of 60,000 bottles. But it was only 0.4 percent of their annual production. I doubt that Snow Phoenix made a dent in Glenfiddich’s aging stocks. I wish that I could say the same for Ardbeg. I can’t help but worry that by putting that much of your stock into a special release, we will miss out on what could have been some future goodness. 

And like I said, then you and I as well as all the others suffer.

Richard (@rmculver on twitter)


  1. Thanks for posting Johanne.I am curious what others are buy to fill that need for Big Peat & Sweet. Port Charlotte? KilKerran? Laphroaig? Benromach Peat Smoke? There seem to be many suiters waiting in line. The once prized Macallan seems to have been knocked off its podium. Will Ardbeg be next? I hope not.


  2. And just learned that the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015 200th anniversary bottling was approximately 28,500 or 30,000 bottles That would put it at 0.8 % of annual production.