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Family distills 75 years of knowledge into ragerly awaited first whisky from Ardnahoe Distillery on Islay

16/05/2024

SIX decades after Stewart Laing first learned how to make whisky on Islay, he and his sons Andrew and Scott are celebrating a lifelong family dream come true with the release of the first whisky from Ardnahoe, the distillery they built on the world-famous whisky island.

Released on 10th May, Ardnahoe Inaugural Release (£70) is a limited edition 5-year-old Islay single malt Scotch whisky shaped by three generations of the Glasgow-based Laing family since the 1940s, when Stewart’s father began working in the industry.

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Stewart travelled to Islay in the 1960s to learn the ropes of whisky-making, an experience that sowed the seeds of a dream – the idea of building a distillery on the Hebridean island.

That dream came to fruition in 2018 as Ardnahoe started distilling and became the ninth distillery on the island, just a few years after Stewart and his sons founded Hunter Laing & Co as an independent whisky blender and bottler.

The launch of Ardnahoe’s Inaugural Release is an eagerly awaited moment for whisky fans who revere Islay whisky and its distinctive smoky flavour, as this is the first whisky from a new distillery on the island since 2009.

With Islay peat smoke on the nose, custard, ginger, lemon zest and baked apples on the palate and a long, smoky finish, the Inaugural Release is a classic sophisticated Islay single malt. Matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso sherry casks, and bottled at 50% ABV, the signature Islay characteristics of peat and smoke are balanced with a sweet fruitiness and real depth of flavour.

With contemporary design and packaging to reflect its position as a modern Islay whisky, Inaugural Release goes on sale on 10th May via ardnahoedistillery.com It will also be available through retailers across the UK and in more than 20 countries worldwide.

Inaugural Release is the first in a series of releases to come from Ardnahoe in the coming months.

Ardnahoe’s debut whisky was created using traditional methods under the watch of distillery manager Fraser Hughes. Soft peated Islay loch water is drawn from nearby Loch Ardnahoe, while the distilleryuniquely uses two traditional worm-tub condensers – the only ones on Islay. These were chosen to bring added depth of flavour and complexity to the spirit.

The distillery’s malted barley, which is sourced from Port Ellen Maltings on Islay’s south coast, has a phenol content of 40ppm – a level selected to allow the distinctive earthy Islay peat smoke characteristics to come through while still being in harmony with the apple and lemon fruity notes. No artificial colouring or chill filtration was used in the production process to preserve a fuller, richer flavour for the whisky.

Stewart Laing, Managing Director at Hunter Laing & Co, said: “Building our own distillery was a hugely important and long dreamed of step and it’s been a personal ambition of mine ever since I was posted to work on Islay at Bruichladdich back in the 1960s. From finding the perfect piece of land on Islay for the distillery back in 2015 to now seeing our first whisky released, it’s truly the culmination of a lifelong dream for the Laing family.”

Hunter Laing & Co Business Development Director Scott Laing said: “This is a very proud moment for us. The Laing family’s passion and knowledge about Scotch whisky has endured for three generations and it’s a momentous milestone to be releasing our very own, traditionally crafted single malt from our own distillery. Watch this space for more exciting releases in the months and years ahead from Ardnahoe.”

Andrew Laing, Hunter Laing & Co Export Director, said: “Ardnahoe Distillery has welcomed many thousands of visitors from all over the globe since we opened in 2019 and there’s been great anticipation at the prospect of the first ever Ardnahoe whisky being released in the UK and internationally. With the Inaugural Release, Ardnahoe has released a whisky that shows signs of one day being regarded as an Islay classic.”

Ardnahoe Distillery’s Inaugural Release goes on sale on 10th May – available via ardnahoedistillery.com and from the distillery itself. It will also be available through retailers across the UK and in more than 20 countries worldwide.

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