Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-American oak and ex-Sherry
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Moet Hennessy
Average price: € 280.00
Official website: www.ardbeg.com
Alongside the astonishing NAS spawned by Bill Lumsden’s imagination, since 2019 Ardbeg has been bringing forth a series with a declared age that is not exactly negligible. It’s difficult to remain indifferent in front of an ageing of almost two decades, the quality of which in the last four releases has been (almost) always high, each year proposing the same recipe modifying only small production details: this year, the bottling was carried out in a ‘wet atmosphere’.
Next year they will use casks aged in dunnage in which Mozart’s music was played (not true, but it could be).
On the nose comes an earthy, damp, vegetal peat that only along the length expresses its coastal side with savoury crescendo veins, with a lively roastiness suspended between coffee and burnt wood. Candied topical fruit (mango, coconut, pineapple) and orange combine with a light spiciness of pepper and nutmeg, gradually imbued with a balsamic and at times menthol note into which the vegetal aspect slips, maintaining the smoke with elegant decision. Refined.
In the mouth, it opens with a rich score of cinchona and rhubarb on an averagely creamy body, where the fresh and vegetal dimension returns forcefully, muted by the smoke that is here fuller and thicker, with an evident saline component. Grilled fruit, chocolate, liquorice and aromatic herbs (thyme, marjoram) jostle in the background, a pre-eminently arboreal frame of mind.
Long finish of spent embers, spicy touches, tropical fruit and herbal notes with balsamic aspirations.
The sensation along the dram is of something unfinished, as if it lacked that spark to achieve excellence. The vegetal and balsamic part is the most evident and interesting, but like the others, it is as if it doesn’t express its full potential, always remaining a step behind.
Great drink, excellent execution, perhaps lacking a little soul.