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 Perpetuum Distillery Release

[49.2%・NAS・Bottled in 2015・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Plenty of vanilla flavoured milk on the nose with a proper coastal influence, iodine with a surprisingly soothing peat note. There is a touch of tropical fructose, lychee and white pepper with a rather refreshing white tea note. The sherry influence is faint but vaguely noticeable.

Palate & Finish:

A rich delivery of vanilla note and caramel on the palate, a lemon tart note dressed with dark chocolate dust. Sooty with mellow spices of pepper and cinnamon.

The finishing is tender with a lingering mineral note and light touches of oak and coffee ground.

Thoughts:

It’s mild and uncomplicated, perhaps even more approachable than the standard version in some ways.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

Nicholas

Dram Review: Ardbeg Perpetuum

[47.2%・NAS・Bottled in 2015・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

The nose is quite medicinal initially, almost Chinese medicine like. Smoky.  That vaguely familiar mocha bitterness from a certain release is present.  Some subtle dark toffee and raisin toast notes, presumably from from the ex-sherry butts and puncheons.

Palate & Finish:

A wee bit of cinnamon to round it off.
  There is a cinnamon sweetness at first on the palate but it just appears for a brief moment.  The peaty notes comes in tenderly yet steadily. Wet pine needle and a pinch of spices coming out on the back palate.

A rather dry finish, some savoury meat notes. It leaves a soothingly ashy and oaky aftertaste, rather evocative.

Thoughts:

A.K.A. “In Bill’s Good Hands”..

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

Nicholas

Dram Review: SMWS 33.119 Ardbeg A Gumtree Bonfire Barbecue on the Beach

[58.5% • 10 Years Old • Bottled in 2012 • SMWS Bottling • Single Cask Release of 219 Bottles]

I had this Australian exclusive which doubled as the most powerful and unique Ardbeg expressions I have had to date:-

Nose:

The nose is ashy with seaweed and charred oak notes. It really is like a Bon fire. Some Brazilian roast meat, some light sweetness here and there. Smoked salmon notes comes through with time along with a fuller medicinal notes.

Palate & Finish:

Sweet at first on the palate with a touch of peppery spices. Then POW, a massive hit of big peat and WOOF a numbingly hot wave of chilli. The smoke and peat spices stay put for a long while.

A touch of fructose in the finish with some delicate vanilla grind but the ashiness just keeps going and going.
Having a full dram of this is like getting your tastebuds hammered by a chunk of burning peat with every sip.

Thoughts:

What a powerful beast.  Extraordinary.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas