Loch & Key Ritual


Since before anybody on Islay can remember, and before that, the performance of the Uigeadail 'Loch and Key' Ritual has been the enshrined duty of anyone who happens upon the Loch.

A fast-flowing stream carries the water down the hills to the Ardbeg Distillery where it is integral to producing the ‘Ultimate Islay Malt’. Following the steep, uphill route to the Loch – high above Ardbeg – is not for the faint hearted.

Beside the Loch is a locked box containing a bottle and a glass for the purpose of performing the Ritual. Those planning to undertake the arduous journey high into the hills are advised to remember to collect the key from the Distillery before setting off. Upon arrival at Loch Uigeadail, tradition dictates that the soul that has travelled furthest must be the one to perform the deed.

As a mark of respect, a dram of Ardbeg must be poured into the Loch in order to “give back what it has given us,” before another is poured into the mouth of all those in attendance.