Back again with another Islay whisky to review for you. This time we are looking at Islay’s south shore and arguably one of the most popular of whisky distilleries in the world, Ardbeg. Ardbeg is known for its heavily peated whisky and has gained a favorable reputation for consistently putting out a rather high quality product. I will say for all the flack NAS whiskies get (deservedly so) Ardbeg has had success going the NAS route and the few I have sampled have been very good. Although some of their latest ‘limited releases’ seemed to have been priced based on name rather quality but such is the whisky world we live in today. That is a topic for another day because today is all about Uigeadail. I believe this particular expression of Ardbeg is bottled at cask strength or close to it and aged in a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry cask. Bottle code for those wondering: L12 255 12:45
Type: Single Malt Region: Islay
ABV: 54.2% Color: Amber -3 Body: Med +
Nose: Tar and rubber initially. Then the fresh peat, bonfire smoke and menthol. Some spices like ginger, white pepper and anise. Just an onion of a bouquet with layers pealing back revealing more and more complexity. Orange peel, sour grapes, lemon zest, hints of sun dried raisins and brandied cherries. There is some vanilla sweetness as well. I’m also picking up on some new leather, wet grass and roasted coffee beans. You could honestly spend hours on this trying to decipher all of its layers and nauces. Amazing.
Palate: Quite salty at first but with hints of sweetness like tres leches cake, honey and vanilla. Then some citrus along with the peat although not as ‘peaty’ as I remember. Perhaps the time in the bottle has mellowed it or my palate has become more accustom to this type of whisky. Some fruit notes like figs, cherries, clementines and red grapes. As well as pepper, turmeric and ginger. Very balanced and a rather large spectrum of flavors
Finish: Cigar smoke, milk chocolate, lemon, oranges, menthol and cappuccino. Last quite awhile.
Overall: Still an absolute joy to sit back and enjoy. Every time I go to grab a dram of this whisky I find something new. While the intense smoke has been subdued a bit (most likely because of oxidation) it is still one of the most complex whiskies I’ve tasted. While not overly strong in a particular area it runs the gamut of flavors and aromas and all the while staying in balance. One of my favorites.