The early days of distilling: If the stories are to be believed (and why not?), the inhabitants of Islay had been enjoying the effects of 'strong wines and aquavitae' for years before the Ardbeg distillery was established. Even attempts to suppress the unruly islanders with a heavy malt tax could not deter illicit distillers and smugglers operating around Ardbeg's rocky cove. This was perhaps an inevitable consequence for a remote island, so difficult for the excisemen to reach, yet blessed with an abundance of natural resources needed for producing whisky - fertile soil, peat bogs and unlimited supplies of soft peaty water. Somehow, against a backdrop of raiding Norsemen, inter-island clan battles and English taxation, Ardbeg emerged as "unquestionably the greatest distillery on earth."
Who would believe that back in 1981, the distillery fell silent and was mothballed, with only very small scale distilling resuming in 1989. Between 1990 and 1996, it opened and closed with monotonous regularity, before finally closing, seemingly for good, in 1996. Fortunately in 1997, to the delight of fans all over the world Glenmorangie plc rescued Ardbeg and a team of dedicated souls set about repairing and reviving the distillery (not to mention repainting it!).