Provenance: Islay (Scotland)
Typology: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon, ex-Sherry
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Moet Hennessy
Average price: € 69.00
Official website: www.ardbeg.com/en-int
Back on Islay, and again a peated whisky.
For many, the King of the peated whiskies: Ardbeg is in fact known for its tarry character, which either provokes unconditional love (mine) or disgust (try to get a non-whisky lover to smell an Ardbeg: it’s a hoot). With such a personal and tough character, you either love it or hate it, hard to find something in between.
And it’s a choice that has been rewarded and recognised over the years, with many of their bottlings winning gold and silver medals from just about everyone.
And for a distillery with a non-intensive production and a constant search for new variations, this is no small feat.
The basic version, the 10-year, is in fact only the tip of the iceberg of their portfolio: there are many NAS versions of the distillate, often with eccentric names (Galileo, Supernova, Serendipity…), but each with its own character and distinctive note. And each certainly does not leave one indifferent.
Also to be appreciated is the decision not to add colouring and not to chillfilter, which for such a widespread brand (10 is now to be found in many supermarkets) is by no means taken for granted.
This bottle too, therefore, contains an unchillfiltered whisky with an original colour: the warm amber flowing in the glass is all natural, the result of the unspecified ageing (searching on the net, you find from 3 to 15 years!) in casks that previously contained Bourbon and Sherry.
Since this is Ardbeg, there is smoke on the nose, but not as aggressive as one would expect: peat, not tarry and sweet, caramelised, with a note of red fruits. I’d say you can feel the Sherry, and it has tamed the asphalt typical of the distillery, and with the marine background (we’re on Islay, aren’t we?) the aromatic palette becomes soft and elegant. And even though it’s over 54 degrees, the alcohol accompanies and doesn’t bite. Really, really a nice, satisfying nose.
At the first taste, the alcohol content is there, and how could it not be: warm, full, but not at all cumbersome. A small miracle.
On the palate, the peat dominates, but always with a sweetness that softens the edges: caramel, red fruits, marinade in spades, a hint of spice… all oily, compact, structured. Where one might have expected a rough distillate, you find yourself with a seductive, caressing whisky, which makes you (almost) forget that you may have to drive afterwards and perhaps it’s better not to have a double. If you let it rest (and it’s better to sip it very calmly), the marine note becomes more accentuated, with a hint of medicine added in the background: truly complex and layered.
After an hour or so spent tasting it, the scents stay with you for a long time, making your palate feel as if it were wrapped in a layer of softened peat and spices.
A truly excellent bottle, I have rarely found NAS at this level: if you like peat, this whisky will amaze (and win you over) without making those sitting next to you hate it.
Other bottlings in the blog:
Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist 2007
Ardbeg Blaaack (Committee Members Release)
Ardbeg Blaaack Limited Edition
Ardbeg Dark Cove
Ardbeg Drum (Committee Members Release)
Ardbeg Supernova SN2019
Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19yo Batch 1
Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19yo Batch 2
Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5yo