I really wasn’t planning on writing about this, but we were hit by the first real rain this weekend in San Francisco. It has been dark, windy and depressingly wet. So I was thinking about what whisky to drink last night and what better dram to pour in this weather than an Ardbeg. The peat and smoke that grabs your palate harmonizes perfectly with the nastiness outside. The warm delights of some Supernova actually made me want the temperature to drop a couple of more degrees and the rain to fall a little harder. It also made me remember the Ardbeg Committee Meeting that was held on September 29th during whisky week in San Francisco.
I found out about the event from Tim of The Ardbeg Project, looked it up online and signed up. The Ardbeg Choppers that I had been reading about online for some time were going to be there as well as Rachel Barrie, Ardbeg’s Whisky Creator and Master Blender.
The event was held at the Barber Lounge, which is a modern take on a salon, barbershop (obviously) and spa. But for this evening, it was a lounge. I arrived fairly early, but there were already folks waiting out in front. And as I got closer I spotted the 2 choppers. I am not a big motorcycle guy, but I could definitely appreciate the art work and craftsmanship that went into building these bikes. The coolest thing for me was the Ardbeg “A” being integrated into the spokes of the wheels.
After about 20 minutes they started letting people head upstairs into the lounge. The lay outwas interesting to say the least. There was an open room in the front then a long hallway with sample booths along the way and another smaller room at the end. This did give it a more cozy feeling though. To my delight the full Ardbeg arsenal was available for the tasting: the 10 year old, Airigh Nam Beist, Uigeadail, Corryvreckan, 2010 Supernova and finally in a I am going to christen this boat sized bottle – the Rollercoaster. There was also a booth set up for a cocktail made from the 10 year old. I don’t like sweet drinks, so I didn’t try it.
Along with a decent spread of food there were a couple of carny style games for us to play to score some T-shirts. I spent about 2 hours at the event, working the food and samples in a very unhealthy proportion but thoroughly enjoying myself. I was also able to finally meet Tim of Ardbeg Project in person which was great and I was also able to catch up with Peter from The Casks. We were all looking forward to the next day’s WhiskyFest – kinda like band camp for whisky geeks I guess.
The Rollercoaster wasn’t opened until later in the evening. Rachel Barrie spoke for a few minutes about the background and making of the Rollercoaster before it was cracked open and we were able to try it. Over all for me, I still like the Corryvreckan the most. The balance of the peat, smoke, subtle fruits and chocolate along with the strong 57% ABV backbone make it rise to the top of the class for me.
All in all it was an excellent event. Hell, it was free, how could anyone complain? To be honest though, even if it was a paid event, it still would have been excellent. It was organized well, the venue provided plenty of space, the food was good and the whisky was top notch. Good work Ardbeg!