Whisky Review: SMWS 33.138 Ardbeg 2007 12 Years Old “A thigh-slapping dram”

Style: Sherry and Smoky

Nose:
Begins with a rather intricate layout – Seafood barbeque, tar and bonfire smoke forming a dynamic exterior, in which semi-elusive cherries and red liquorice are tucked right into the core. Maritime tides rolling in, fennels and pineapple lollies. Herbal spices, liquorice roots and brown sugar sink lower to form a powerful undercurrent. Very complex for a 12-year-old… Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper at its tail. A clean limoncello tone gradually rises from behind.


Palate:
Salted apple toffee marches in, while plenty of tarry smoke clinging firmly onto the sweetness. The sweet-maritime crust melts after a while and releases creamy chocolate and red fruits residing within. The oloroso sherry is now singing beautifully. Shellfish and seaweed both simmering in thick treacle. Liquorice and confectioneries combine to form a solid secondary layer. Lemon and lime soda with a dash of brine to finish.


Finish:
Dying bonfire, slightest hint of ammonia and grilled shrimp overtone. Cranberry jam and mocha, a light lemonade touch at the end.

Thoughts:
Wow. This is incredibly complete and delicious at mere 12 years old. Beautiful profile, excellent structure, interweaving nuances. The distillate synergizes so well with the Oloroso sherry to create a rich and velvety sweetness, which somehow reminds me of the earlier Uigeadail – the sherry-bourbon-distillate balance was simply immaculate. Together with the composed tarry peat and mighty herbal drive, we have an Ardbeg that epitomises the limitless potential of this resurrected distillery. Enchanting dram.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[60.9% | Independent Bottling | Single Cask | Cask Strength | 2007 Distilled | 2019 Bottled | Non Coloured | Non Chill Filtered | 2nd Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt | **+]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Ardbeg Blaaack Committee 20th Anniversary Limited Edition

[50.7%・NAS・Bottled in 2019・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Cowshed with loads of molasses building up a really sticky vibe, a bit metallic though with some rustic iron notes in the background and a wee splash of truffle oil in time.

Palate & Finish:

More molasses on the palate with an exaggerated herbal layering with instances of maraschino cherries showing a citrus edge.  It gets chewier with notes of dirty peat bog and even sweeter with the strawberry syrup and buttery toffee treacle.

Burnt sugar with a hint of mint in the finish.

Thoughts:

The Pinot Noir cask influence seems to have turned everything up a notch, it’s not a problem for me but it seems to be a more exaggerated and simplified modern creation, if you will..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ardbeg Guaranteed 10 Years Old (Clear Glass Bottling Circa 1980s)

[40.0%・Bottled Circa 1980s・Official Bottling・General Release] 

Nose:

Soft doses of iodine and barley sugar, faint cowshed and haystack notes leading way to pear lollies seasoned with ginger and pepper, powdery and dusty with the ashy element.

Palate & Finish:

Slightly on the dry side with just a wee sweetness from the malt. The peppery tar eventually allows notes of citrus and passionfruit to come through, though the dry spices and charred toast make an early entrance.

Shades of flowing light honey and beeswax, chewy whisky tablets to go with fading seaweed and peat.

Thoughts:

Aye, the fantastic nosing exhibits all those little traits one would have hoped to find in an Ardbeg from this era and more! But in retrospect though perhaps it is foreboding of the dram’s shortcomings at 40%.

The delivery unfortunately doesn’t quite live up to expectations.. just a bit thin for things to really develop dramatically and to put it rather harshly it’s slightly anti-climatic..

Still, on nosing alone, this is one for those who have tragically fallen under the spell of vintage Ardbeg..

☆ [Recommended] 

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ardbeg Twenty Something Guaranteed 22 Years Old

[45.4%・12 Years Old・Distilled in 1996・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Pitted Cherries, orange zest, vanilla, honey. Mellow mix of sandalwood, ginger flowers and wild flowers that turns slight brine-y with a very subtle layer of peat smoke.

Palate & Finish:

Vanilla sauce and coconut cream, ice cream caramel dressing with creamed honey before mild notes of pear and menthol surface. The soft shortbread note elongates, allowing time for the white pepper to hit along with dry herbs.

Soft finish of vanilla and brown sugar, hint of bitter chocolate to bring things to a balance.

Thoughts:

The 2017 release was a miscue but the 2018 Twenty Something picked up where the debut release left off.. quite a delicious mellow Ardbeg. I would have liked to tug one aside for a rainy day but alas there’s no guarantee I would actually get one had I registered. This dram would do just fine.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ardbeg Single Cask 1998 (Cask No. 2763)

[55.6%・11 Years Old・Distilled in 1998・Bottled in 2009・Official Bottling・Cask No. 2763・Single Cask Release of 270 Bottles]

Nose:

Quite a relaxed, but certainly not shy dose of maritime peat, brine-y with some coffee beans, just a tinge on the sharp side with the cedar shoe trees.  Dry twigs and wet mud on a herbal base, but still quite wonderfully lemony and sugary; solid incense and chalk contributing to the backbone and quite ashy, cigar smoke with some peppery notes on the back end.

Palate & Finish:

Lemon marmalade and apricot cubes closely followed by an oomph of spices, pepper and paprika rounded by red apple flesh and lemon oil as the peat sweeps in. Blackcurrant lozenge, linseed oil, cumin seeds, with a wee hint of coconut oil to follow for a rather short mid-palate that swiftly transitions into a much longer finishing with an ashy presence, some sichimi spices linger as notes of beef jerky and iodine iron out the tail.

Thoughts:

Reassuringly peaty. A borderline two star..

Cheers Jason for the sample and the photo.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ardbeg Twenty Something

[46.3%・23 Years Old・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

The peat is mild and melted into a pool of oil diesel, fumes and smoke.  Faintly Sherried and slightly milky, there’s some iodine in there but perhaps it’s a tad metallic as well.

Palate & Finish:

Vanilla, chocolate and Sherried fruits, the delivery is not too dramatic, antiseptic and raspberry coulis layering on in a follow through that’s perhaps less refined and more rustically textured.

There is this seaweed-y note in the finish that’s a tad rough around the edges.

Thoughts:

A twenty something Ardbeg generally has this certain appeal..

This is more in line with contemporary releases but perhaps just not as delicate as what people expect from a more matured Ardbeg expression, it is unfortunate that this is a follow up to the Twenty One..

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Ardbeg Grooves

Style: Sweet and Smoky

Nose:

Ardbeggian signatures taking a slight confectionaries turn. Gentle heat, liquorice candy coating around some lemon balm, grapes and apricots semi-glazed while smoking water building up from the background. Distant hay and peat smoke flickering, white pepper sprinkled on a dash of brine. Orange notes beginning to grow at the core.

Palate:

Sweet lemon liquorice on one end and hay peat smoke on the other. Cold sweet wine flowing over the top, a big bite of smoked chocolate apricot, treacle and lemon aloe vera slotted in one level down. This is really sweet. Slightly dispersed, sooty smoke fluttering in and out to the background. Small stack of dry grass torched, with brine on the side and tar sinking in. Medicinal overtone at the back, liquorice roots to finish.

Finish:

Citrus fruits falling onto a layer of aloe vera and liquorice. Faint coal embers, a delicate end.

Thoughts:

Another year, another Ardbeg, maybe it’s time to introduce age statements into the equation? Anyway, this is a surprisingly sweet Ardbeg, rich and round elements patching up the spirit nicely to give a coherent presentation. Whether it be strong cask influence (heavily charred red wine casks) or/both using more matured casks, it keeps a good composure and easy drinking. Edging towards one star region.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

[46% • Original Bottling • Limited Edition • 2018 Bottled • Non Chill Filtered • Non Coloured • T+]

Thanks to the good people Moet and Hennessy Australia for providing the sample!

-Esmond

Dram Review: Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Ardbeg Distilled 1978

[40%・22 Years Old・Distilled in 1978・Bottled in 2000・Gordon & MacPhail Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Chocolate mousse with a hint of cream powder, faint splashes of cherry preserve and apple juice with this curious hint of burnt toast.  Some freshly plucked oyster and herbs with more fragrant fruity aromas.

Palate & Finish:

Light fruits with a brush of creamy undertone. Some nibs of roasted peanuts as well. The wood glides really well with the diluted presence of raisin and dried orange notes, mild white fruits with just traces of peat coming on at first but eventually it fills the scene.

The warming peat smoke continues to stick to the teeth, hint of menthol as the wee creaminess strides on.

Thoughts:

This Ardbeg fares a tad soft even for this vintage.  I think I prefer other 1978 bottlings but of course in saying that this is still very much a delight, and is technically structured and refined..

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ardbeg Lord of the Isles

[46.0%・25 Years Old・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Mellow, delightful white fruits laced with faint hints of ash and finely dried coastal peat, some flannel seeds and a subtle layer of burnt oranges to create the depth.  The wood is elegant and soft, whilst the warming bonfire sensation subtly builds, the iodine is restrained and balanced by the French vanilla.

Palate & Finish:

The white fruits fare bright and sublime, crisp apples, lychee, Maraschino cherries, caramelised banana together with some burnt oranges, strawberry lollies forming something truly elegant and complex, with hints of cured ginger and white pepper to even out before the smoke begins to sink in and the dry peat effortlessly takes over.  The oak along with some bitter chocolate and more burnt oranges on the back palate lightly sucks out the moisture.

The dram finishes with sea salt seasoned chocolate as the peat drags on, a tad on the dry side with a hint of menthol

Thoughts:

Ahhh, a seasoned and an immaculately detailed Ardbeg.  The oak cuts in a bit soon, but a beautiful dram nonetheless..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Ardbeg 10 Years Old

Style: Sweet, Smoky and Sophisticated

Nose:

Delicate lemon tart fuses with a beautiful body of peat smoke. Hint of dry hay, seaweed, orange confectionaries core with a zesty edge. Fruitiness embraced by a gentle, icy breeze. Subtle notes of smoked ham, ginger shreds, Maraschino cherry and liquorice root lurking at the back. Very nice.

Palate:

Liquorice and bonfire peat lacing onto a candied orange citrus core. Bright, perfumed lemon tone, iodine, seaside barbeque smoke surfaces in the middle. The tone drops in the second half, chocolate dust followed by a heavier dried dark cherries and liquorice root. All integrated together nicely.

Finish:

More chocolate notes, barbeque smoke and a touch of peat embedded within. Cappuccino, lemon honey drops to finish.

Thoughts:

As we are in the hunt for special editions and fancy single casks with rare specs, but sometimes we forget that some excellent drops are available to us at incredible price all along. This Ardbeg 10 is a great example of that – Lively but graceful expression, elements in harmony, extraordinary balance between light and heavy notes (I have read online that Ardbeg Ten is exclusively matured in Bourbon casks, but personally I feel there is some sherry influence involved in this, hmmmmm…). Not a super 2 star whisky, as I cannot give extra points for its price-quality ratio, but the quality is definitely in that territory. My gratitude to whisky makers who produce quality drops at such an affordable price – Whisky should be consumed and appreciated, not for social class distinction.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[46% • Original Bottling • Non Chill Filtered • 2013 Bottled • Non Coloured • General Release • **-]

-Esmond