Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Moet Hennessy
Average price: € 49.00
Official website: www.ardbeg.com
I finally fill an unforgivable gap by talking about the basic bottling of a distillery I love very much.
First released in 2000, Ardbeg Ten (as it is often called) quickly established itself as THE peat distillate par excellence, given how unusual it is to find a distillate with such a high peat content (50 to 55ppm) that is easily available and, above all, cheap.
It has received many awards, is much loved and hated, and is not an easy whisky to approach for those who are not passionate about its genre.
As is often the case, the quality has been found to fluctuate over the years, and for some the most recent bottlings are in the positive phase.
Where the sample in my hands came from, alas, I have no idea, but then again, I had a bottle that had been emptied a long time ago, so I kind of do.
The colour is pale gold.
And here, alas!, on the nose is the beautiful tar of Ardbeg: asphalt, rubber, a distinct marine personality, lemon. But it’s not all that abrupt, underneath there’s also ripe pear and a hint of vanilla…. Brutal yes, but not rough.
On the palate, the peat is a fleshy and vegetal mix, more aggressive than on the nose, thanks to the alcoholic thrust that although not high knows how to bite. It flows creamily in the mouth, melted butter on hot coals (or on hot asphalt, you name it), with touches of peppery liquorice and lemon. But this is whisky and there is more to it than peat, and if you are not impatient you will appreciate the full-bodied soul of the distillate, which knows how to open up in the salty and marine aspects that alternate with the sweeter ones (also hazelnuts and even chocolate) with a touch of damp burnt wood.
The finish is long, of pepper and barbecue, ocean and liquorice, smoke and wood.
An excellent introduction to the distillery, embodying all its soul at a surprisingly popular price (in supermarkets you can find it even under 40 Euros): you have to try it, to understand if Ardbeg is for you or not.
And if it is for you, well…. you’re screwed.
The Scotch Noob