By Rory Reynolds
THE website of one of Scotland’s top distilleries crashed after it was bombarded by a horde of whisky fans.
Staff at the Ardbeg distillery on Islay had to man the phones after 25,000 of its club members crashed the online shop in an attempt to buy a bottle of its latest release – Rollercoaster.
The customers belonged to the Ardbeg ‘committee’, club members who have supported the distillery since it was revived in the 1990s.
Hamish Torrie, brand director at Ardbeg, said: “We were quite overwhelmed. The committee has some 50,000 members and about 25,000 of them were trying to get onto the website all at once.
“We were expecting quite a few but it was a bit of a tsunami – we only have 15,000 bottles.
“The website wasn’t down but it was frozen. We’ve got orders for around 5,000 already, and we would have sold all 15,000 if the website had have held out.
“We restricted it to two bottled per customer as last time we allowed eight or 10 and we ran out.”
Hamish explained that the Ardbeg has released Rollercoaster to thank the committee, which was formed in 2000 to ensure a base of fans, for their support.
The Islay firm was mothballed in 1981 when production was shut down, and was re-launched in 1997 by Glenmorangie.
He added: “The committee are like clan, basically they think they own the distillery.
“This is our way of thanking them, they’ve stood by us during the ups and downs.
“The distillery roof came off in a hurricane – you might call that a low.
“And a few years ago we accidentally mixed a very old Ardbeg with a not very old Glen Moray – it was quite an expensive mistake.
“We weren’t able to sell it under the Ardbeg brand, so we sold it to the committee – they forgave us for it.”
Rollercoaster was released exclusively for the committee members and has not gone on sale to shops or the public.
The £50 a bottle tipple, is an eye-watering 57 per cent in strength.