It's a Wee Beastie! Ardbeg reveals a new member of its whisky family

Islay single malt Scotch whisky distillery Ardbeg has announced the release of a new permanent core-range expression: Wee Beastie 5 Years Old
By Christopher Coates
The new Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5 Years Old
The new Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5 Years Old
Hot on the heels of the announcement that this much-loved Islay Scotch whisky distillery has released its first beer, Ardbeg has revealed a new member of its whisky family: Wee Beastie 5 Years Old.

This new expression is the Islay distillery's first new single malt Scotch whisky to be added to its core range since the release of Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Years Old in August 2019 — though supply of that expression is limited to annual batch releases and at the time of writing it is sold out on Ardbeg's website and at most retailers. This venerably aged expression followed relatively swiftly in the wake of the No Age Statement An Oa, which hit the shelves in 2017.

While one might not exactly call this a flurry of thick-and-fast activity, it certainly demonstrates a ramping up of the brand when compared to its historic slow and steady approach, which was largely driven by annual 'Ardbeg Day' bottlings such as this year's Blaaack and 2019's Drum.

In the past, so called 'Ardbeggians' (fans of Ardbeg whisky) have had to wait as long as eight years for a new permanent bottling — prior to An Oa, the last new core expression had been 2009's Corryvreckan, which replaced the old Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist. This perhaps gives an indication of things to come as Ardbeg prepares for the completion of its expansion works, which will double the distillery's capacity.

Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5 Years Old has been matured in a combination of ex Bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry butts, and has been bottled non chill-filtered at 47.4% ABV. Wee Beastie's relative youth harks back to the (now very collectable) Ardbeg Very Young, Still Young and Almost There expressions from the early 2000s, which exhibited the distillery's distinctive peated style at young ages and tracked the spirit's evolution into the Ardbeg 10 Years Old.

Regarding the Wee Beastie release, Ardbeg’s director of whisky creation Dr Bill Lumsden said: “I’m in no doubt that Ardbeggians will love this tongue-tingling expression. The casks chosen for its creation make it ideal for enjoying neat or as the mouth-watering main ingredient in a powerfully smoky cocktail.”

Mickey Heads, Ardbeg's soon-to-retire distillery manager, said: “A new permanent expression in the core range is always momentous for the Distillery, but Wee Beastie is a particularly special dram. As it’s a younger whisky, it means we’re able to get as close to the still as possible. So it’s safe to say this is a ferociously good wee nip!”

Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5 Years Old will be available from specialist retailers around the UK from May onwards for RRP £39.
Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5 Years Old
Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5 Years Old