Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Sherry
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Moet Hennessy
Average price: € 65.00
Official website: www.ardbeg.com
It’s a curious year, 2021, for Ardbeggians, the fans of Ardbeg whiskies.
Accustomed by now to the distillery’s limited and often bizarre releases, they found themselves with no less than three special editions dedicated to the members of the Ardbeg Committee, first with the bottle in honour of Distillery Manager Micky Heads’ “retirement”, then with the usual bottle for Fèis Ìle (in two versions, as usual) and shortly afterwards with this bottling.
Bill Lumsden, the man who oversees distillation for Ardbeg (and Glenmorangie), says he decided to make this unusual edition (starting from the age statement, now rare for the distillery) as if it were the main bottling, a sort of Ten from an alternative universe.
Matured entirely in ex-Sherry casks (another unusual element for Ardbeg), it’s presented as an invitation to Committee members to discuss the whisky’s aromas (hence the alternative name, For Discussion), having organised an online tasting with distillery manager Colin Gordon on 30 July.
An invitation, perhaps, to open and drink this bottle and not let it end up on the shelves gathering dust or in secondary markets, as often happens with Committee Releases.
So, let’s open it and talk about it!
On the nose, the first sensation of smoke is that of roasted juniper over vegetal impressions of celery and tomato juice which blend into the tones of bergamot, sour cherries, sweet liquorice and aniseed. A light sea breeze blows over the aromas, bringing with it an idea of coffee and chocolate. Intriguing.
On the palate there’s a spicy charge of pepper and cloves that is still grafted onto the juniper, together with a sparkling saline and mineral note spread over citrus, caramel, quinine, liquorice and black olives. Menthol tobacco veins. Puff of soot.
Long, savoury finish of cloves, black olives, ash, bergamot.
Suspended between a sweet profile that never takes off and bitter and mineral tones that scratch and titillate the senses, a whisky that more than complex I would define as twisted, a tormented soul that frets and yearns to find its own way. A high level of entertainment that even in its faults finds a reason to be loved.
Reviews of Ardbeg whisky in the blog:
Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist 2007
Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist 2008
Ardbeg Arrrrrrrdbeg (Commitee Members Release)
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
Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5yo
Old Malt Cask Ardbeg 1991 (13yo)