Provenance: Islay (Scotland)
Typology: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry Oloroso
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Moet Hennessy
Average price: € 190.00
Official website: www.ardbeg.com/en-int
Released in September 2019, this bottling is named after the Islay beach of the same name, also known as Singing Sands (the name in Gaelic means “soft white sands that sing beneath your feet”), and represents the first bottle from Ardbeg’s core range to have a stated age after several years.
It’s a small batch, which has a code on the label so you can follow its history online (of this bottling, you can find it here), with the basic recipe expected to change slightly from year to year, depending also on barrels availability.
I use the distillery’s own words about this expression:
“This rare 19 year old single malt is inspired by the heavenly view offered by Traigh Bhan on Islay, known among locals as the Singing Sands, and will be released annually in small quantities.
The alluring place from which this bottling takes its name offers soft white sands that sing underfoot, but alongside its more seductive side hides a more dangerous aspect: swimming in its crystal clear waters is not recommended due to the jagged volcanic rocks that jut out along the shoreline.”
Light gold in the glass.
As salty and acrid as the nose of an Ardbeg should be, nice and viscous and full like an oil lamp hanging on the prow of an ocean-going ship, along with cloves, orange, chocolate, liquorice, vanilla and coconut. There is also a distinct woody component, with pine needles and damp wood, resin, to which is added a hint of leather. All well balanced and harmonious, pungent.
Silky on the palate, it glides along leaving an almost chewy patina on the tongue, with sweetness caressing it with a sugary and caramel profile, but you can’t fool yourself, the peat makes itself felt, moist and meaty, with the acrid smoke tingling the sides of the mouth. Liquorice and chocolate rest together, with leather wet with ocean spray acting as a counterpoint, leaving citrus fruits (orange, but also a twist of lemon peel) in the background. At length, a few car tyres are thrown on the damp wood of the bonfire, just to liven up the ambience, with the peat remaining lively despite the whisky’s not exactly youthfulness. More coconut in the background. Musk. Complex and layered.
The finish fills the mouth for a long time, with ash, ocean, chocolate, orange, leather… even the empty glass reminds you of the just picked up flvours.
Rich and full without being explosive, age has done much to help this Ardbeg, confirming its spirit, which is fully recognisable but reflective, with its strength softened but not bent by time. The aromas are balanced, the alcohol content very centred, it requires attention and care, strange almost to say but it’s a meditative Ardbeg.
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 2
Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5yo
The Whiskey Wash