Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon first fill and refill
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Moet Hennessy
Average price: € 180.00
Official website: www.ardbeg.com
The releases for the Ardbeg Committee can no longer be described as an event, a continuous series of (more or less) limited bottlings which, if they used to be annual, have now become completely random and scattered over several occasions during the year.
Another recurring motif of recent times is the eccentricity of the packaging, almost as if there were a marketing competition to make things bigger and bigger.
And so behold Fermutation, released at the beginning of February 2022 with a label that is bizarre to say the least, triggering the usual train of criticism and stomach aches from those who profess disdain for contemporary management and swear to stop all purchases… starting from the next time.
The story goes that in November 2007 a boiler rupture endangered six washbacks already full of precious liquid, prompting Lumsden (distillery’s patron saint) to open the lids and expose the mash to the air, leading to an unusual, very long fermentation of three weeks, just enough time to repair the boiler for distillation.
And so, after thirteen years of maturation in ex-Bourbon casks of first and second fill, here is this special and unique bottling, distributed in 8,000 bottles that have obviously already sold out and can be found at much higher prices than the original.
If we are talking about strangeness, it’s immediately evident on the nose that we are dealing with an Ardbeg that is different but not too much. The herbaceous notes, declined in the aromatic herbs (thyme, oregano), are grafted onto a thick carpet of fruit (apricot, plum, candied orange) and caramel, with the toasted component in the background emerging at times, as if carried by the wind blowing over the ocean. Along the length, some peach Melba emerges.
On the palate, the citrus part grows in intensity, orange zest and juice accompanying the aromatic herbs together with the saline component, which is also more decisive, with a pinch of pepper and ginger soon joining them. Fruit takes a back seat to the lemon cream, with a vague mentholated impression that touches on the marked smoky and ashy notes, with a touch of herbal bitterness. Crisp and lively.
Long, spicy finish of citrus, malted biscuits, ash mixed in soy sauce.
A commendable balance between smoke and sweetness, with the long fermentation seeming to affect the nose more than the palate, where it offers pure entertainment with crisp and tasty undertones.
You can criticise labels and pricing choices, but there is little to discuss about the quality of the distillate.