Provenance: Islay (Scotland)
Typology: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry Oloroso
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Moet Hennessy
Average price: € 45.00
Official website: www.ardbeg.com/en-int
When the 19 year old Traigh Bahn (soon to be featured on these pages) was launched, it had been many years since the addition of an age declared bottling to Ardbeg’s core range, which until then had only consisted of NAS surrounding the historic Ten.
And unexpectedly, last March the distillery announced another bottle with the years well in view, admittedly very young and pungent in aroma, hence the nickname, which recalls the way the Scots often refer to pesky insects or germs.
I quote directly from the pitch by Distillery Manager, Mickey Heads: “Ardbeg Wee Beastie is an extraordinary dram. As our youngest matured whisky, it clearly shows the special characteristics of our stills, a real beast of a dram!” Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg’s Director of Whisky Creation, added: “I’m sure many Ardbeg fans and anyone who wants to be one will fall in love with the tickle it gives the tongue. The selected casks have resulted in a dram that can be enjoyed neat or as the main ingredient in a very smoky cocktail.”
All marketing then?
Light gold in the glass.
Smoke and ocean are there, but not as abruptly and grumpily as the label would have you believe: wet peat, then, with barbecue ribs along with oranges and lemons, with a sprinkling of pepper. Touch of sweet licorice like Haribo wheels. Ardbeg tones, but all in all calm and simple, more like a ladybird than a gadfly…
The palate becomes more sour in its aromas, even though it runs oily on the tongue, bringing out the burnt tyres sprinkled with black pepper and cloves, with the sweet scents taking a back seat (candied orange, more liquorice, hazelnuts). Very marine, especially in length, with salt permeating the mouth. Quite static but pleasant, for those who like the genre ça va sans dire.
The finish is quite long and ashy, which in the tarry blanket drags a little licorice, pepper, orange and lots of salt.
Far from being the scurvy little beast evoked by its name, this is a basic but pleasant expression of Ardbeg for those who want to get closer to the distillery’s notes, all too tame especially when one thinks of Ten and how much more representative it is at a similar if not lower cost. If this expression really is here to stay, the price needs to be rethought, although I fear this may lead to an increase in Ten (with a relative decrease in production), also to give the distillate more breathing space.
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