Ardbeg Distillery Island of Islay Scotland

Ardbeg Grooves

Review of the 2018 Ardbeg Day edition.

Provenance: Islay (Scotland)
Typology: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Gradation: 46%ABV
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Charred Wine
Chillfiltered: No
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Moet Hennessy
Average price: € 169.00
Official website: www.ardbeg.com/en-int
Vote: 81/100

Every time I get my hands on a bottling of Ardbeg that I miss, it’s a bit of a party: I know, it’s a fixation, but everyone has their own fetish-distillery, right? Mine is this.
However, I always try to be objective if I’m going to talk about it on these pages, striving to subdue the groupie in me who would just like to throw a bra at Bill Lumsden (lucky him I don’t wear one).
But with all the versions of Ardbeg out there, sometimes even that groupie is put to the test…

And this Grooves, both in name and packaging, puts her in a bit of a slump.
A special 2018 Ardbeg Day edition that followed the exclusive Ardbeg Committee one (at 51.6% proof), bottled in January of the same year and which finished its (undisclosed) maturation in barrels that contained (unspecified) red wine, heavily charred causing deep grooves on the wood.
The name, however, refers not only to the effect of fire on the barrel, but also (as you can tell from the packaging) to the use of the term grooves (or rather, groovy) as it was used in the ’60s and ’70s, to indicate that slightly hippy “vibe” that dominated the scene.
Is that clear? Good.
Then let’s drink.

Dark amber in the glass.
Aroma suspended between meaty, tarry and oceanic, less acrid than usual and indeed quite soft (by Ardbeg standards), from which emerge notes of red fruits (including even a little strawberry), prunes, nutmeg, almond, liquorice root. Candied citrus fruits and crème brûlée. Over time, it’s the marine and iodized aspect that gains strength, compacting the aromas more decisively and remaining rather sugary (and toasty). Not bad, definitely better than the first approach.
And the softness is confirmed in the mouth as well, with a smoky and gentle peat that, thanks to the not-so-fierce alcohol content, accompanies the aromas in the palm of one’s hand on their macillary and saline waves, with a light touch of spice (including cinnamon) and more red fruit, apple pie with cream, toasted cane sugar and citrus, here more convinced and present than on the nose. Touch of liquorice. It’s a little watery on the palate, flowing all too quickly and with little incisiveness, as if it lacked substance.
The finish is quite long, mineral, with toasted sugar, liquorice and orange.

Given the name, I was expecting a lysergic experience, but instead I found myself with a healthy hippy smoking seaweed cigarettes. Almost an introductory whisky, which doesn’t want to disturb, even too much peace and quiet, but then again, that’s the name, isn’t it? But from a special and limited edition (and expensive, although it’s not a weighty element in giving an opinion) I expect much more.
Sorry Bill, I’m keeping the bra this time.

Other bottlings in the blog:
Ardbeg 10yo
Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist 2007
Ardbeg Blaaack (Committee Members Release)
Ardbeg Blaaack Limited Edition
Ardbeg Blasda
Ardbeg Corryvreckan
Ardbeg Dark Cove
Ardbeg Drum (Committee Members Release)
Ardbeg Kelpie
Ardbeg Supernova SN2019
Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19yo Batch 1
Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19yo Batch 2
Ardbeg Uigeadail
Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5yo

Other perspectives:
Malt Review

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