Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Moet Hennessy
Average price: € 1,500.00
Official website: www.ardbeg.com
A much-anticipated release on its debut, this 25 year old is currently the most mature bottling in Ardbeg’s portfolio, released from 2020 onwards, in a rather sophisticated package with a beautiful black glass bottle.
This whisky comes from a very difficult period for Ardbeg, as at the time the distillery was working at a very low capacity given the crisis prevailing throughout the scotch world and beyond, containing distillate from those 1990s that produced legendary bottlings such as Traigh Bhan and the excellent Cadenhead’s that I tried some time ago.
Strongly desired by Bill Lumsden, this quarter-century bottling is the undeclared heir to the Lord of the Isles, made between 2001 and 2007, same maturation and in equally high-sounding packaging.
A note on the price: at the time of release, the list price was around €750.00.
On the nose you immediately feel the difference with modern Ardbegs, here the peat is distinctly vegetal and tame, steeped in orange, dried apricot, rennet apple, liquorice root, juniper, a hint of thyme and a thin waxy layer in the background. The ocean is a distant, subtle tide. Over time, an impression of chestnut emerges and it becomes silkier and sweeter. Very elegant and compassionate.
A nice spiciness greets the palate, of black pepper and paprika, accompanying a very soft body that brings us back to an Italian chestnut cake (with rosemary and pine nuts), with citrus notes that counterbalance it along with apple, a touch of vanilla and a compact and sinuous smoke. Very ‘solid’, with the wood appearing along its length, austere and rigid. The marine component is always a distant echo.
The finish is long and mellow, wet ash, wood, medlar, dried orange.
Soberly elegant, moderate, quiet… adjectives that are hardly associated with the distillery, but which make perfect sense here. The low alcohol content makes the whisky lack the bite and drive that would have given it greater depth, leaving the impression of a dram that could have been extraordinary but turns out to be ‘only’ good.