Cigar Aficionado

Special Ardbeg Release Features the Smoke

Straight from the Barrel

Ready! Aim! Fire! Enthusiasts of gun smoke -- smoky Scotch, that is, not the TV Western chronicling the exploits of Marshall Dillon -- may want to start saving their pennies for the October release of the prized 1974 Ardbeg whisky in a special double-barrel rifle case. The two-bottle package goes for $20,000.

Ardbeg, which claims the distinction of being the smokiest of Scotch whiskies, is a product of the island of Islay, which is known for the preponderance of peat smoke used in malting. Because of its age and its renown, the 1974 vintage has become quite hard to find. Aside from its smoky qualities, the Scotch is quite floral and fruity with notes of chocolate, toffee and the salty/iodine character that comes from the distillery's proximity to the ocean. The whisky is a vestige from a time when Ardbeg still did its own floor malting before the distillery was mothballed in 1981. The Ardbeg distillery reopened in 1997, when it was purchased by Glenmorangie.

The limited-edition package (50 sets) was commissioned from the same manufacturer that creates cases for James Purdey & Sons, designers and builders of fine English-style shotguns and sporting firearms, and includes two handblown bottles of single-cask whisky, each with individually numbered sterling silver labels. The case is finished with two bronze belt buckles and is finished with hand-stitched bridle leather. It contains eight sterling silver cups, a leather book for tasting notes and an Omas fountain pen.

For information on purchasing this limited-edition expression of Ardbeg, visit