Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Day Gone & A To Come - Ardbeg Day 2014

Remebering Ardbeg Day 2014
So Ardbeg Day is coming again and the date is set for the 30th May 2015. To make this years event even bigger it is also the distilleries 200 Year Anniversary so we can only expect something magical to be happening at this years event.

Registrations are not yet open but rest assured that you need to be in fast as space is limited for the free world wide event. For Sydney news either watch the D.T.W.C. website, our facebook page, and or The Barons's twitter account and we will keep you informed of when Australian registrations are open. Even better sign up as an Ardbeg Committee Member and get word direct from the source.

Ardbegs Day’s reason for being is to unite the Ardbeg community and Committee Members in one big universal celebration of all things Ardbeg. Ardbeg Day world wide coincides with the Fèis Ìle Islay Festival Of Malt & Music. Fèis Ìle, now in its fourteenth year, is a week long event held on the island of Islay, Scotland, where all the islands distilleries open their doors over consecutive
 days to the public. It is like one big distillery crawl. The seventh and last day of the festival is when Ardbeg Distillery opens their doors. In turn, around the world, one big party is held in most major cities. Coinciding with Ardbeg Day we will be sure to see a new limited release bottling of an Ardbeg to be tasted on the same day (but more about that later).

The Shortie Dogs
Traditionally Ardbeg Day is a free event here in Australia. As I understand it Ardbeg / Moet Hennessy channel just about all their promotional funds into having this one big bash instead of lot’s of mini events through out the year. For a country of our population size this makes a lot of sense to me.

As with previous years various D.T.W.C members have attended this free event and we report on a lot of whisky things happening in the local dramming scene but so does everyone else these days. The community is thriving and I love it but it does deliver a bit of clutter. Instead of reporting on festivities after Ardbeg Day 2014 I thought to keep this review back as a bit of a teaser of what to expect in the coming event this year.

It is safe to say no Ardbeg Day is without a theme and last years was no different. It was the World Cup in 2014 so aptly Ardbeg Day was themed to the tune of Peat Football - the Ardbeggian take on the football World Cup. Held in the centre of Sydney city at The Mint, one of New South Wales Historic Houses and Living Museums, Osheen from Watch & Whisky and myself arrived early. Dressed in our most dapper jackets and peat pitch colours we were prepped for soiling. Soon to join us at the gate was El Capitan displaying slight jitters at the concept of a continuous supply of Ardbeg. Though the gates we peered in but nothing was to be seen though the sound of yapping dogs was not unchecked to our ears. As the crowd built many familiar faces nodded in acknowledgement though it was clear we were al itching to be in and at it.

Cocktails, Spit Pig, Foosball Pitch, and Watch & Whisky
As the gates swung open we entered the gardens of The Mint before our usher promptly directed us to the left and around the main historic sandstone building. It was soon very clear where the source of the dogs chatter was coming from. Before us and restrained by Ardbeg green leashes was a pack of Shortie Dogs aka Jack Russell’s, the mascots to the Ardbeg Brand. Though briefly encountered they were certainly one of the many memorable and unexpected moments of the day. I need a real one now.

Winning at shuffle the ball around blow up bottles of Ardbeg
Rounding the corner we entered the Peat Pitch filled with the typical fund games and activities we see at an Ardbeg Day. With cocktails in hand and a roasting spit pig to our right we claimed a table and rendezvoused with Mr and Mrs Gourmantic, Time For Whisky, and the Whisky Ledger to get our game plan together. Cocktails? check. Whisky? check. Gotta get me one of this Ardbeg Bags? check. Live band? check. Better take some photos? check. Uuummmmm there is a human size blow up fossball pitch over there… this is going to be fun.

The foosball team warming up, the band, the oysters
Time passed, we sampled our fine peated whiskies, and formalities played in. 2 teams entered the foosball pitch to play out a game of Peat Football. Lording from the balcony and commentating the match was the former Socceroo’s player Mark Bosnich (I had to be told who he was... sorry). Team skills could only be matched by those fitting of anyone that lacked an ability to kick a dead eye at the goal. We cheered, we laughed, we drank, and then Mrs Gourmantic and myself were completely smashed by a highball out over the field wall and straight into our well filled glasses. It was the cocktails too! Shattered glass and dripping from head to toe in red stuff little compassion from the crowd we delivered. I was not even delivered a comforting dram for the effort of taking one for the team. Bummed man that was my beverage.

With the game ending it was in shear delight the presentation of the official Ardbeg Day limited edition bottling fruited: Ardbeg Auriverdes. Garth Foster, local Brand Ambassador for Ardbeg and Glenmorangie, paraded a gold bottle of the Ardbeg Auriverdes (about the size of a 5 year old child) through the crowd pouring drams by the fist full to any willing to accept the liquid love. We had the privilege of trying the Auriverdes a few weeks prior to the release. To find out more about our thoughts check out the post: Pimped and loving it - Ardbeg Auriverdes Limited Release.

Human Foosball
As the crowd thinned and the Ardbeg souveniring began we thought where is everyone going? It seemed only the hard core Ardbegians were to remain and there was no stopping us building a team, then climbing into the foosball pitch for what looked like an easy win. Oh my were we all wrong. Heart thumping and Ardbeg pumping in our blood it was heart attack central. Who’s idea was this anyway? Watch & Whisky proceeded to take a few cracks at my heels (this guy) before our team thinned to the few players not yet going into cardiac arrest. You don't play human foosball when drinking whisky! It is safe to say we were all winners and we were all losers that afternoon.

Cannot stop for too long there is more Ardbeg things to do
As they day came to a close we limped or shuffled off to the local Ardbeg Embassy for one more dram, a meal (like all those oysters and roast pork was not enough), and a cold beer. It was a great day and plans were already in place for the coming year of 2015.

The final shots before Human Foosball killed us all
How do you get involved in the Ardbeg Day event? To get notifications you need to be signed up as a Ardbeg Committee Member. Committee membership is free with many perks to be had, notably Ardbeg Day access. For a break down of the welcome pack when becoming a Ardbeg Commitiee Member check it our this previous post: Ardbeg Abides – Becoming "The Ardbeg Committee" Member. These tickets go in a matter of days and even though the event is open to all, it will be you the Committee Member that gets the notification first.

We are really looking forward to what is to come for the 200 Year Anniversary of Ardbeg Distillery. It can only be a cracker! Hope to see you at Ardbeg Day 2015 and be sure to register.

Tha Baron.

This is a non-sponsord announcement. For any further details please defer to the Ardbeg website.