Ardbeg Uigeadail Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


The tiny Scottish island of Islay is home to about 3000 people, yet is home to ten working distilleries making some of the peatiest whiskies in the world. They are Ardnahoe, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, and Port Ellen, which only reopened this past March after 41 years. 


The tenth is Ardbeg, situated on Islay’s southern coast and 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, 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


Loch Uigeadail is essential to today’s discussion, as we’ll be exploring Uigeadail, one of five whiskies in Ardbeg’s core lineup, the others being An Oa, Wee BeastieTen, and Corryvrecken.


Like any other single malt Scotch, Uigeadail begins with 100% malted barley. There are a couple of ways to malt barley. The beginning of the process is the same. The barley is soaked for a few days, then spread out on a malting floor, where it is turned regularly, ensuring the germination process can occur. Then, the barley is heated to stop the germination, and that step is where the processes diverge. It can be done with or without peat as the heat source.


Peat refers to peat moss, which comes from marshy bogs and can be found worldwide. No two peat bogs are identical; they’re like fingerprints or snowflakes, and as such, peat harvested from different bogs will smell and taste different from one another. The peat is cut into bricks, which are burned. As such, the burning imparts strong qualities in the barley that carry over through the distillation process. It should be noted that a whisky’s peatiness, measured in phenols per million, is due to what happens before distillation. It is never added post-distillation. Ardbeg’s whiskies are typically 50-60ppm, making it one of the strongest of what Islay offers.


Uigeadail first hit the market in 2003. It is a blend of whiskies aged in ex-Bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry casks. There is no age statement, and Uigeadail was one of the first well-received single malts to do so. This whisky is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and packaged at 52.4% ABV (104.8°). It isn’t overly challenging to find; however, I’ve seen it priced as low as $80.00 and as high as $130.00.


Ardbeg recently sent me a sample of Uigeadail in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review, and I thank them for that. Let’s #DrinkCurious and taste for ourselves what makes this Scotch so popular.    


Appearance: I poured this Scotch into my Glencairn glass and sipped it neat. The brassy liquid created a medium-thick rim, which shed syrupy tears.


Nose: The campfire smell that wafted from the glass was inviting. The next part of the aroma was roasted peanuts. From there, scents of leather, grilled meats, dark cherries, lemon zest, and vanilla permeated my nostrils. When I inhaled into my mouth, there were honey graham crackers.


Palate: Uigeadail’s mouthfeel was oily and full-bodied. The front of my palate encountered smoky peat, raisins, and vanilla. At the midpoint, there were orange peel, dried cherries, and rich chocolate, whereas the back featured pecan praline, tobacco, and clove.  


Finish: Flavors of raisins, dried cherries, pecan praline, vanilla, and fudge remained. However, before this long, luxurious finish ended, there was smoke and freshly cracked black pepper.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: It is hard not to fall head-over-heels in love with Ardbeg Uigeadail if you enjoy peated whiskies. It is a near-perfect Islay Scotch with a balance of oomph and richness that’s sure to please. Its popularity is justified; you’ll want a Bottle of your own. 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.