Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry Oloroso first fill and refill
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Moet Hennessy
Average price: € 450.00
Official website: www.ardbeg.com
Here I am with one of Ardbeg’s best known past bottlings, which on its release in 2014 made a lot of waves.
This isn’t the only bottling dedicated to the eponymous Celtic cross on the island (dating back to the eighth century), as ten years earlier there had been two releases, bottles containing vintage from 1980 and miniatures with vintage from 1981.
Initially on sale only locally and with the proceeds partly going to fund a charitable activity, this is one of the first of the many NAS produced by the distillery afterwards, presented in a particularly elegant package, the result of combining first and second fill casks.
Its low alcohol content made many people turn up their noses, at a time when people were already complaining about the distillery’s ‘quality slope’.
And after seven years, they are still talking about it.
Bringing the glass closer to the nose, the peat is dense and meaty, barbecue ribs with rosemary and cloves, burnt wood, cooked cream, peach in syrup, pine needles, leather. A breath of menthol crosses the aromas. Round and full, with a marked but balanced smokiness.
In the mouth it starts with a clear peppery note accompanied by ginger and cloves, then the sweeter and fruitier flavours of ripe apricot, peach, vanilla and marzipan emerge on saline and coastal tones, where the peat becomes more vegetal and sylvan with a touch of olives in brine. Smoke more acrid but losing intensity, bringing out notes of blood orange and red fruits on the length. Hint of bergamot.
Quite long and savoury finish, of pepper, cloves, toasted orange, burnt caramel, menthol note, lemon.
All in all a simple whisky but a very pleasant dram, obviously for lovers of the genre (and of Ardbeg). Good balance between sweet and peat, without too much push from either.
The Whiskey Wash