The Versatile Gent was lucky enough to be invited to a very special lunch at The Sailors Club in Rose Bay to celebrate Dr Bill Lumsden’s recent success at Ardbeg. It’s not often ‘Dr Bill’ makes the trip out to Australia but with Ardbeg’s triumphs at the World Whisky Awards in London under his belt and the impending Glenmorangie La Santa launch (Dr Bill is head distiller at both Glenmorangie and Ardbeg – yes he is very talented) a trip to Australia was certainly in order. The lunch was a plethora of Ardbeg everything from the whisky based cocktails and oyster dressing to the finest selection of whiskies Ardbeg has ever offered, including the rare 1977.
Dr Bill is a seriously amusing gentleman and provided some top shelf chat amongst the depth of whisky knowledge he possesses. He’s had a very interesting life at the helm of Glenmorangie and more recently Ardbeg. I found myself in awe and complete envy of a number of his stories but most notably his session with Jim Murray the night after the group acquired the Ardbeg distillery when the two men picked out a bottle of every whisky the distillery had produced and sat down at a dimly lit Islay pub and sampled the history of Ardbeg.
The four whiskys on offer that day were the Ardbeg Uigeadail, the Ardbeg Corryvreckan, the Ardbeg Galileo and of course the Ardbeg 1977, a whisky Jim Murray describes as “simply one of the greatest experiences – whisky or otherwise – of your life”. Each of the whiskies were paired with a suitable course and the 1977 was left for the finale.
Seared Scallop with Salt-Baked Beetroot & Caramelised Apple Reduction
Slow Roasted Kurobuta Pork Shoulder, Smoked Eggplant Puree & Grilled Leeks
The Sailors Club Tiramisu
The Tiramisu and Ardbeg Galileo were easily my favourite pairing, but whisky wise, I couldn’t pick a real winner out of the three. I’m almost positive it was the Corryvreckan but wouldn’t bet my life on it. One thing was certain however – I’ve never been more impressed with a lineup of whisky from one distillery in my life and would happily recommend all three to anyone interested in not just a top shelf Islay whisky but one of the world’s best single malts.
Finally we sampled the 1977 as Dr Bill told us a painful story about his wife gifting one of the last remaining bottles he had to a local town raffle while he was away on a business trip in Singapore. Luckily the bottle helped to raise a significant amount of money for a local school and was won by a true whisky fanatic so Dr Bill assured us it went to a good home. It was a delicious dram and made all the better by the fact I got to drink it with the man who created the other three phenomenal whiskies I’d sampled that day. Ardbeg has won the coveted World’s Best Whisky three years running and it’s due to the hard work of Dr Bill Lumsden. If you’re a real whisky lover I urge you to get to your nearest quality retailer and pick out one, two or all three of the Ardbegs sampled that day because I can assure you not one will disappoint!
Read more about the range here and stay tuned for TVG’s write up of the limited edition ‘Ardbog’ launching June 1.