Ardbeg has a real knack for releasing some fabulous whisky, and some fabulous no aged statement whisky at that! The Uigeadail is one of my favourite whiskies of all time, and the Corryvreckan is also a masterpiece. And then you have the recent releases; most notably the Ardbeg Galileo which won World’s Best Single Malt Whisky 2013 at The Whisky Magazine Awards earlier this year. People are desperate to try and buy the latest release as soon as it hits the shelves – and why not, the pedigree is there and if you don’t buy one initially the secondary market is an expensive place to make a purchase.
Ardbeg’s latest release is the somewhat bizarrely, yet appropriately named Ardbog. It is named to bring attention to the distillery’s home on Islay, and the peat bogs that make up a large part of the landscape. The whisky itself is ten years old and has spent its life maturing in American Oak and Spanish Manzanilla casks. This release, like the others is non-chill filtered, and is bottled at 52.1%. Ardbog was launched on Saturday 1 June and as luck would have it we were at the distillery to take part in all of the festivities while enjoying a dram or two of the spirit.
We were lucky enough to try the Ardbog on the actual Ardbeg peat walk which you can read about here, but in order to do justice to this whisky we had a dram under ‘test conditions’ back at home.
Ardbog has a fabulous nose. There is a an initial wave of dry smoke that is tempered slightly with some saltiness and meatiness from the Manzanilla. This becomes sweeter with time in the glass offering up toffees and butterscotch wrapped in sweet milk chocolate. It is distinctively Ardbeg but with a twist, and a twist that I like!
The palate is very full on and almost medicinal in nature. TCP, plasters and antiseptic hit first but are quelled by the spiciness of cloves and aniseed. The whisky is oily and leathery, raw yet refined. It is a real mix of sensations moving from sweet to savoury and is a pleasure to drink. The finish continues in the same vein; it is very dry and bitter before the sweetness from the sherry arrives leaving the palate wanting another sip. It lingers long in the throat, and memories of a sunny week on Islay come flooding back.
Ardbeg have done it again – an interesting cask selection that shows off the delight of the spirit. It is a fine whisky and in my view more interesting and enjoyable than last years Ardbeg Day (which was still a fine spirit). We just can’t wait to see what is released next year… Ardbug, or Ardbig… you (may have) read it here first!