Ardbeg Ten Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

As I peruse my whiskey library, deciding what to sip on, I'm sometimes stunned by what I have that I've not yet reviewed, especially concerning my Scotches. And, from that, especially when it comes to anything Ardbeg 


Ardbeg is situated on Islay’s southern coast. One of only eight working distilleries on the island, Ardbeg was founded in 1815 by John Macdougal. In 1838, he sold it to Thomas Buchanan; however, John’s son, Alexander, continued to run operations. Alexander died in 1853, and his sisters, Margaret and Flora, assumed control, along with Colin Hay. 


Margaret’s and Flora’s involvement was monumental, as very few women were distilling in Scotland. The earliest recorded female Scotch distiller was Helen Cumming, who founded Cardhu in 1824. 


Ownership returned to the Macdougals when, in 1922, Alexander Macdougal & Co purchased Ardbeg in its entirety. Then, in 1977, Hiram Walker acquired it only to shutter the distillery in 1981 due to minuscule demand. Its closure severely impacted the local economy, as while it only employed 18 people, the town relied heavily on the distillery. 


Thankfully, in 1987, Hiram Walker was sold to Allied Lyons, and in 1989, the distillery rumbled back to life – for two years. It was then mothballed again. In 1997, The Glenmorangie Company purchased Ardbeg and remains its current owner. Finally, in 2021, Ardbeg doubled its distilling capacity by adding two stills. 


"The water we use to produce Ardbeg comes from Loch Uigeadail, 3 miles up the hill behind the Distillery. The water flows down the hill and runs into Loch Airigh Nam Beist – from there the burn takes it to Charlie’s Dam at the Distillery and from there it is piped into the Mash House." - Ardbeg 


Before I go any further, I must disclose that I’m an Ardbeg fanboy. It doesn't mean I love everything out of that distillery. Still, given the choice between an unknown Ardbeg and an unknown pretty much anything else, I'm choosing the Ardbeg. I've experienced a loser or two (think Auriverdes).  


Today I've chosen one of the core Ardbeg expressions: Ten.  The super cool thing is that, unlike many Ardbeg releases, it’s easy to pronounce! Its inaugural bottling was in 2010. Ten is a single malt made from a 100% malted barley mash from Port Ellen. It utilizes a heavy 55-65 PPM level of peat. Ten spent at least a decade (hence its name) in former Bourbon barrels. It is non-chill filtered and is naturally colored. You can expect to pay about $60.00 for a 46% ABV (92°) 750ml package. 


Now that you know the background of the distillery, it is time to #DrinkCurious and discover if this expression is worth the investment. For the record, I purchased this bottle from a Wisconsin retailer.


Appearance: I’m exploring Ten with a neat pour into my Glencairn glass. The liquid was the color of golden straw. A thinner rim released a slow curtain of wavy tears.


Nose: I would be remiss not to mention the smoky and peaty qualities of the aroma. It is there, and it is what Ardbeg is known for. I also smelled bananas, butterscotch, and mild oak. A mouthful of vanilla greeted me as I drew the air through my lips.


Palate: The texture was weighty and full-bodied. It began as a vanilla bomb quickly dispersed by oak and apples. The middle initiated the peaty journey with thick smoke, and a deep earthiness, while the back offered flavors of seaweed, bananas, and a kiss of roasted coffee.  


Finish: Ardbeg Ten has one of those Energizer Bunny finishes. It keeps going and going and going. Charcoal, vanilla, dry oak, apples, seaweed, and earth refused to relinquish the ship.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This is most assuredly not a toe-dipping opportunity for those unfamiliar with peat. But, if you crave peated Scotches, then Ardbeg Ten will satisfy your every desire. It is a bold whisky, yet somehow not overwhelming. It is flavorful and well-balanced. It isn’t a palate-killer; while spicy, there’s no real burn. And best of all, it is an affordable, age-stated single malt Islay Scotch. If you think I’m giving Ten any rating other than a Bottle, you’re crazy. Buy this whisky. You won’t regret it. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you to do so responsibly.




  1. After Lagavulin 16 this is my favorite Scotch. According to Jim Murray it is the favorite of King Charles.


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