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Revealed: the world’s most daring whisky challenge

17 August 2016

Island odyssey summons the untamed spirit of Ardbeg single malt

A whisky challenge like no other launches in September on Ardbeg’s remote Scottish island home - Islay. Bringing to life the single malt’s untamed spirit, The Ultimate Ardbeg ARDventurer Challenge takes contestants from around the globe on an odyssey into essential Islay. As they vie to become the Ultimate ARDventurer, they must compete over the island’s rugged coastline, wild peat bogs, mist-capped hills and brooding lochs, which for more than 200 years have inspired Ardbeg, the world’s smokiest, peatiest Islay malt whisky.

Contestants, including journalists, bloggers and Ardbeg fans from the U.S., UK, Canada, Germany, Japan and Sweden, will take part in the challenge. Led by Distillery Manager Mickey Heads and survival expert Monty Halls, these ARDventurers will spend three days (5-8 Sept) immersed in the rain-soaked, windswept land from which Ardbeg crafts its award-winning single malt whisky. They begin with an apprenticeship at the Distillery and an arduous trek to Ardbeg’s water source Loch Uigeadail. The contestants must then spend a day cutting the peat which lends The Ultimate Islay Malt its smoky character. Finally, they will row a cask of Ardbeg along Islay’s perilous coast, following in the wake of the earliest distillers, who transported their cargo by sea.

The ARDventurers will carry a 12kg pack and camp at atmospheric locations such as the 8th Century Kildalton cross – a symbol of Islay’s Celtic heritage. They will cook on an open fire (with only a wee dram or two of Ardbeg for comfort). Each day, they will be ranked by Heads and Halls, for Ardbeggian qualities such as survival spirit, endurance and resourcefulness.

Mickey Heads said: “ARDventurer’s challenges showcase the untamed spirit of Ardbeg’s island home – although the contestants may decide they prefer experiencing Islay’s soft rainfall and peat in their whisky rather than in person! Monty and I will be interested to see the most innovative use of the ration packs given to each ARDventurer. The packs are based on the smoky-sweet taste profile of Ardbeg and each pack contains ingredients such as bacon, limes, tarry rope, matches and iodine… some more obviously useful than others.”

Halls, who will prepare the contestants for their ARDventure, said: “Islay is a place of fascinating complexity, just like Ardbeg’s whisky. It’s fitting that the contestants will walk away with a decanter of Ardbeg, the ultimate distillation of their untamed Islay experience.”

The ultimate Ardbeg ARDventure