What can I drink instead of Ardbeg? The best substitutes for Ardbeg Whisky are other heavily peated whiskies from Islay’s distilleries, such as Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, and Kilchoman. Bowmore, Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain, Talisker, and Hakushu produce less smoky Scotches, which are also acceptable substitutes.
Ardbeg is a distillery on Islay, an island that lies off Scotland’s west coast, that produces distinctively peated whiskey. Burning peat as part of production creates high phenol levels, imparting an intense flavor that gives these whiskies the name “smoky Scotch.” We recommend the following nine substitutes for Ardbeg:
The Best Ardbeg Whisky Substitutes
Founded in the nineteenth century in Islay, the Laphroaig distillery produces the ideal substitute for Ardbeg.
Laphroaig produces a variety of single malts, all of which have a heady peaty flavor. Their 25-year-old cask strength is sought-after by committed peat lovers for its smoky, spicy taste and delicate fruity vanilla undertones.
If you’re a fan of Ardbeg’s 10-year-old cask strength or a whisky lover unfamiliar with peated whiskies, the Laphroaig 10-year-old is a worthy substitute.
Laphroaig’s offering has a smoky yet complex medicinal, herbaceous flavor with a less appealing aroma than the iodine, seaweed, and peat of Ardbeg.
Another distillery from Islay, Lagavulin, is an excellent alternative to Ardbeg.
The smoky single malts from their portfolio are known to be peaty yet refined, round, and balanced.
Because many of their whiskies mature in sherry casks, they have a delightful sweetness and smoothness with dried fruit and citrus notes.
Lagavulin’s 16-year-old is often the first choice of peat lovers, who find its ashy, charcoal quality comforting.
Enjoy this malt as a replacement for Ardbeg, as it has a similar briny tone. Also, look out for the 8 and 12-year-old limited releases as options with beefy smoke.
The third substitute for Ardbeg is Bruichladdich, a Scotch from Islay.
Bruichladdich has had a chequered past, being mothballed intermittently but reopening in 2000 under the famed distiller Jim McEwan.
This distillery pushes the envelope, using barley grown in a single field, bottling younger whiskies, and producing the world’s most heavily peated malt.
If you want an Ardbeg substitute that is “super-heavily peated,” reach for a bottle from the collectible Octomore range.
The peatiest whisky in the world, Octomore has an intense smoky char with a medicinal undertone that mellows to fruit, vanilla, caramel, honey, and chocolate notes.
Port Charlotte, Bruichladdich’s less overwhelming offering, is still heavily peated, but its umami blast is toned down by hints of chocolate and a finish of mint.
Drink as a savory replacement for 10-year-old Ardbeg.
Although a newcomer to Islay and an inland rather than coastal distillery, Kilchoman creates single malts that are super smoky replacements for Ardbeg.
Kilchoman is unique in producing malt whisky from barley grown on the farm and malted on site.
Because the distillery was only established in 2005, Kilchoman’s Scotch is relatively younger and lacks the medicinal quality of the sea.
If you don’t have any Ardbeg 10, Kilchoman Machir Bay is a robust substitute.
Reminiscent of smoked American rye, it’s strongly charcoal in flavor but has an underlying butterscotch sweetness from being aged in sherry casks.
The oldest of the nine Islay distilleries, Bowmore can substitute perfectly for Ardbeg.
Bowmore’s single malts are renowned as some of the best-peated whiskies available, characterized by a less aggressive smokiness and regarded as medium-smoke Scotch.
Much of their offering is aged in sherry or bourbon casks, creating a sweeter and more balanced Scotch that appeals to bourbon drinkers.
Choose Bowmore’s 12-year-old expression as a substitute for Ardbeg, especially if you are a fan of a more approachable, subdued peat flavor or are introducing someone to peated whisky.
Another Bowmore offering, the Tempest, is matured for ten years in bourbon casks and has a peppery, meaty flavor. However, Bowmore won’t satisfy ardent peat lovers.
While most of Caol Ila’s whiskies are blended, you can enjoy their peated single malts as an alternative to Ardbeg.
Caol Ila, in the far north-eastern part of Islay, produces a famous peated whisky.
Their smoky Scotch has an appealing freshness, making the peat taste clean and grassy without the medicinal notes of other brands.
The Coal Ila 12 is a particularly morish Scotch you can happily substitute for Ardbeg.
It’s very drinkable, even for peat novices, and has an incredibly smooth mouthfeel. Bright fruitiness balances the smoke, making it a summery version of Ardbeg 10.
If you enjoy herbal Scotch, try Coal Ila 18.
Near Caol Ila is Bunnahabhain, which produces peaty whisky that you can drink instead of Ardbeg.
Not all of Bunnahabhain’s whisky is peated, but whisky connoisseurs highly acclaim their 12-year-old, 18-year-old, and 25-year-old expressions.
The best substitute for Ardbeg 10 is Bunnahabhain’s Toiteach a Dhá (Gaelic for smoky two), aged in bourbon and sherry casks.
The briny seaweed notes come forward with the smokiness, but lovers of this Scotch highlight the mushroomy umami rather than the vanilla and caramel tones.
The only distillery left on the Isle of Skye, Talisker produces smoky Scotch to satisfy Ardbeg lovers.
Producing lightly peated whisky, Talisker’s tagline is “by the sea,” which describes the marine aroma you’ll sense immediately.
Talisker 10 is a classic that can substitute for Ardbeg 10, so long as you know, it’s not a peat monster.
This Scotch is more delicate and balanced, with a pleasing smokiness that isn’t overwhelming. It lacks the intense herbaceousness of Ardbeg but has similar fruitiness, sweetness, and freshness.
If you want to splurge, the Talisker 25 is peatier but an absolute treat.
Fans of Japanese whisky will enjoy substituting Hakushu’s peated offering for Ardbeg.
From a distillery north of Tokyo, at the foot of Mount Asayo, Hakushu’s 12-year-old is known in the US as a delicate, soft-complexioned sipping Scotch. The distillery has since made a foray into peated single malts.
As an alternative to Ardbeg, Hakushu Heavily Peated is a smoky Scotch. It tastes like a single malt from Islay but with characteristic Japanese elegance.
Despite the name, fruitiness and spiciness make way for a low level of peatiness. Peat heads may be disappointed, but the fantastic whisky may convince them to take another sip.