You would not think it to see it now, but Ardbeg had a difficult time of it for much of the 20th century. The distillery was bought in a joint venture between Hiram Walker and DCL in 1959, both intending to supply their blends. The subsequent years were very successful, but DCL backed out in 1979 (closing many of their other distilleries a few years later), and Hiram Walker then struggled in the 1980s era oversupply when interest is blended Scotch was waning. They closed it down for the majority of the decade. It re-opened briefly in the 1990s before being revived for good by Glenmorangie plc in 1997.
Ardbeg Blaaack was released in 2020 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Ardbeg Committee. Officially launched in January 2000, the Ardbeg Committee is a fan club that loosely tasked with safeguarding the distillery from a return to its darker days of the previous century. Open to anyone to register, the club has access to exclusive releases like this one, which are never available to the general public. Membership also have access to a private room at the distillery and are asked to adhere to semi-tongue in cheek set of Committee rules, one of which warns of grave consequences for those who mix their Ardbeg with anything other than water.
The distillery's annual limited edition is normally launched at the Arbeg Day celebration at Feis Ile every year, but sadly the 2020 event was cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, this was launched through the distillery website. As ever, a cask strength release exclusively for members of the Arbeg Committee was also produced.
Adorned with sheep puns, the labelling refers to Ardbeg distillery's "black sheep" status on Islay, and the whisky was matured in Pinot N