A Scottish distillery has this month released two historic whiskies which tell the tale of a turbulent past and a fierce fight for survival during the 1980s.

Founded in 1815 on the Scottish island of Islay, Ardbeg is famed for signature smoky malts which have earned it a global following.

The Herald: Pictured: The Ardbeg Distillery - todayPictured: The Ardbeg Distillery - today (Image: Supplied)

There was a time, however, when many feared the distillery would be lost for good.

In the 1970s, fashion began to favour blended whiskies leaving just a few casks put aside each year to be matured as single malt.

As a result, stock from the decade is said to be “exceptionally” difficult to come by.

The Herald: Pictured: Ardbeg Distillery Warehouse from the 1970sPictured: Ardbeg Distillery Warehouse from the 1970s (Image: Supplied)

The Scottish whisky industry later suffered a downturn during the 1980s, which left the future of Ardbeg in a perilous state.

On March 25, 1981, the distillery and on-site maltings were closed and remained silent for the next eight years.

The Herald: Pictured: Ardbeg Distillery during the 1980s Pictured: Ardbeg Distillery during the 1980s (Image: Supplied)

Eventually, as the outlook for Scotch improved, Ardbeg’s fortunes changed and the Distillery re-opened in October 1989, to begin “a brave new chapter”.

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Offering a time capsule to this bygone era, the distillery has this month announced the release of Ardbeg The Rollercoaster, a pair of whiskies contained in 143 sets which will be offered to collectors and connoisseurs through the Moët Hennessy Private Client channel.

The Herald: Pictured: Dr Bill Lumsden Pictured: Dr Bill Lumsden (Image: Martin Scott Powell for Ardbeg)

Ardbeg’s director of whisky creation, Dr Bill Lumsden, said: “Ardbeg The Rollercoaster is a unique opportunity for collectors to experience two very different tastes of Ardbeg’s heritage and acquire a set of bottlings with an incredible story. 

"A snapshot of the contrasting spirits of those days, the time capsule whiskies will go down in Ardbeg history."

Created just two weeks before the Distillery’s closure, The Rollercoaster’s first whisky is from the very last cask remaining from the stock of 1981.

The 42-year-old bottling is very lightly peated in character and a rare example of “Kildalton-style” Ardbeg.

Celebrating the 1989 revival, The Rollercoaster’s second whisky is one of the Distillery’s final casks left from that year, distilled just weeks after production had restarted.

The Herald:

CEO Caspar MacRae said: “From our Distillery’s most perilous low come two unrepeatable bottlings which take Ardbeg to new heights.

“Ardbeg The Rollercoaster shows just how far our Distillery has come since its uncertain past.”

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As whisky fans will know, Ardbeg’s tumult did not end in 1989 with the distillery closing once more in 1996.

The brand was purchased by the Glenmorangie Company and saved from extinction a year later and is now said to be one of the world’s most highly awarded smoky single malt whiskies.

Mr MacRae continued: “As Ardbeg’s fanbase continues to grow, we are more invested in our Distillery and our island community than ever before.

“We have built a new stillhouse to ensure the future of Ardbeg’s legendary smoky spirit, and we have recently invested in a well-known hotel on Islay, so we can create a world-class hospitality experience for residents and visitors alike.

“Here’s to the future of Ardbeg.”

Each set of Ardbeg The Rollercoaster is encased in a presentation box crafted from solid Scottish oak by renowned designer John Galvin and priced at £85,000.

To register interest in purchasing visit ardbeg.com or enquire at the Distillery Visitor Centre on Islay.