Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon, ex-Burgundy
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Moet Hennessy
Average price: € 74.00
Official website: www.ardbeg.com
Back to the Ardbeg distillery on the south coast of the quintessential peated island.
Like all distilleries, it has seen production open and close over the years, with various changes of ownership since its foundation in 1798 (with releases only officially starting in 1815).
The latest resurrection took place thanks to the purchase in 1997 by Glenmorangie, which, with a considerable economic investment, revived and modernised the company.
The particularity of this distillery is that it has only one whisky with a declared age in its basic portfolio (10yo), accompanied by a plethora of NAS with very evocative names, some inspired by the surrounding landscape, others… definitely not!
In this case, Corryvreckan takes its name from the gulf of the same name that contains the whirlpool (also of the same name) that characterises its waters, located between the islands of Jura and Islay, moreover one of the largest in Europe. Obviously, there are various legends (one of which is written on the bottle box) linked to this natural wonder, including that of the Winter Queen (Cailleach) who comes to wash her plaid in the whirlpool every year for three days until it glows white again.
What could they have wanted to tell us by choosing this name for the bottle?
Lovely deep gold in the glass.
Peat is, of course, the first aroma to hit the nose, with Ardbeg’s usual suave brutality, although more towards the burnt than the asphalt. There are also strong marine components (salt, iodine) together with leather, wood and a hint of pepper. The nose is aggressive, driven also by the considerable alcohol content, full-bodied and compact. With a lot of patience, a hint of black cherry can also be perceived, but don’t tell it that or you will undermine its macho attitude.
The attitude, however, is betrayed on the palate, where, okay, there is a nice toasted peat, the meatiness of the bacon, the swirling splash (d’oh) of sea and the strong pepperiness, but the sweet side comes forward: cinnamon, brown sugar, orange, liquorice. The flavours chase each other, curl up and bang on the walls of the mouth: never was the name more apt! Each mouthful is slightly different from the previous one (it’s advisable to drink a little water every now and then to reset the taste), the alcohol sustains each push without ever going off the rails, in an incredible balance given the tone of each element. It isn’t an unbalanced brawl, but a vortex of flavours that drags and swallows.
The finish is long, very long, of pepper, glowing embers, cinnamon, salt… and you just want to start again.
Sumptuous, powerful, complex, enthralling… if it wasn’t obvious, I like it quite a lot. Not a whisky for the faint-hearted, going far beyond the simple ‘peat’ label, going for much more.
The Whiskey Jug