Ardbeg Heavy Vapours (Committee Release)

We're back to Islay, checking out Ardbeg's newest committee release, Heavy Vapours. 

Ardbeg Heavy Vapours Committee Release

Region: Islay

ABV: 51.2%

Price: £120.00

The latest committee release from Ardbeg is the first whisky from the distillery that was distilled without using Ardbeg’s purifier. The purifier, for those who are unaware, is a piece of equipment that sits on the lyne arm of Ardbeg’s spirit still. During distillation, the alcohol vapours rise up from the still and enter the purifier, Some of the heavier compounds are captured in the purifier, these compounds then condense, and fall back into the still, where they are heated again and rises up for another distillation. It’s claimed that using the purifier makes Ardbeg spirit fruitier and brings balance to the heavily peated spirit.

After distillation the Heavy Vapours spirit was matured in refill bourbon casks, and bottled without an age statement. Anyway, onto the dram…


We don’t normally mention colour in our reviews as it’s not an indicator of quality, but we can’t help but notice that this whisky in our glass is very light suggesting tired casks or whisky that’s quite young.

Initially on the nose there’s some butterscotch, fudge, chlorine and smokey bacon. Leaving it in the glass reveals a little more peat along with green apples, and yeast. To be honest we wouldn’t have guessed this was Ardbeg, and the yeasty note gives us a clue as to the likely youthful age of the spirit.


The palate has ash, a bitterness that’s hard to place, some sugar cube sweetness and cumin and cardamom spice. This doesn’t taste like it’s 51.2% and we’re finding the palate thin and watery. Giving it a little time in the glass reveals burnt coffee, borvil chocolate and more spice that lingers on a real long finish. Like the nose we’re missing the any notes that scream Ardbeg.

Nose (with water)

Reduction brings out a little wine wine and we’re reminded of a Gerwuztmaineer, along with raw bread dough, more green apples, and sugar rice paper. Going back to it there’s stale ash, earth and mushrooms.

Palate (with water)

Reduced the mouthfeel remains thin and we’re now initially getting even more spice. There’s also more ash, but on the plus side the bitterness has diminished. We’re also now getting after eight mints, and airwaves chewing gum. Finish remains a good length, and the spice mellows as the dram progresses. Personally if we’re drinking this again we’d add a few drops of water.


Woah, what a disappointment. The flavours that are here aren’t the most exciting and they disappear too quickly just leaving spice. If you’ve been lucky enough to travel to the distillery as we have you’ve possibly, like us, had the opportunity to try the new make. Well we can confirm the new make is significantly better than this. Hopefully Ardbeg never remove the purifier again. At £120 we’re going with a generous 6.5/10. Ardbeg have a great range of core bottling and we’d highly recommend you pickup Ugi, or Ardbeg 10 instead both are far better bottles, and both are significantly better value for money.

We’ve reviewed a fair few of the committee releases now and because our scale takes in price you’ll find several of these have been given the same score. If you’re interested the below is a list of the bottles in order of preference ignoring price.

  1. Ardbeg Scorch Committee Release
  2. Ardbeg Hypernova Committee Release
  3. Ardbeg Fermutation Committee Release
  4. Ardbeg Grooves Committee Release
  5. Ardbeg Drum Committee Release
  6. Ardbeg Ardcore Committee Release
  7. Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Release
  8. Ardbeg Arrrrrrrdbeg! Committee Release
  9. Ardbeg Heavy Vapours Committee Release

Score: 6.5/10

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  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

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