Ardbeg prides itself on being the ‘Ultimate Islay Malt Whisky’. Established in 1815, Ardbeg is revered by connoisseurs around the world as the peatiest, smokiest and most complex of all the Islay malts widely available. Despite its smokiness, Ardbeg is renowned for its delicious sweetness, a phenomenon that has affectionately become known as ‘the peaty paradox.
A stunning expression from Islay’s Ardbeg distillery on the Kildalton Coast is named after a nearby loch (pronounced “Oog-a-dal”). A dark, mysterious place it’s the perfect example of how sweet and savory notes can work together spectacularly you’ll find Ardbeg’s maritime salinity intact here, combined with dried fruit notes imparted by time spent in sherry casks. Made with some young and some very old Oloroso sherry aged whisky then blended with Ardbeg 10 year. The sherried whisky used here provides some depth and sweetness to the dram
ABV: 54.2% Cask Strength. Non-Chill Filtered. Natural Color: Amber
There is a freshness and sweetness to the nose that is surprising when you think of what a peat bomb Ardbeg is. Peat, sherry sweetness, dark juicy fruit, warm fruit cake spice, honey and vanilla make up the bulk with lighter notes of dark sweets, brine, citrus peel, coffee grounds, smoked toasted barley, prunes, tobacco leaves, sea salt, caramel. Little flourishes of dark sugar, cereal notes and a most sophisticated tar. Like a tomato like acidity moving through. Water moves the citrus peel to more of a lemon oil character and some tobacco hints show up.
Led by sweet, ripe fruit and black forest honey and a good helping of malt. The throne then usurped by a powerful peat and smoked barley. Peat and sweet is the name of the game here. Peat and sherry sweetness dominate the flavor with notes of pepper, graham cracker pie crust, citrus oil and dark sweets filling in most of the background. Light notes of cocoa, honey, vanilla and fruit fill the undercurrent. Water brings out a bit of nuttiness and a bit of bitterness.
Very long, caramel and malt weave their way through peat smoke and dark sugar and just a hint of fresh espresso coffee before it finally peters out. Long fade of peat and sweet with notes of graham and citrus oil keeping things interesting.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Such deft balance! How wonderful to sample Ardbeg so beautifully complimented by sherry. It is peat and sweet heaven. It’s a perfectly balanced marriage of flavors with a rich round body and thick oily texture. There’s a reason this stalwart of the Ardbeg core line up has been so highly lauded and awarded over the years. It’s really damn good!