The early nose offers hand-rolled tobacco, ginger, black pepper, and fragrant woodsmoke. Medicinal notes, brine, and lemon develop in time. Sweet peat smoke, tropical fruits, toffee, and aniseed on the palate, with smoked haddock and a suggestion of tar. Iodine, black pepper, and sea salt in the lengthy finish.
Part of the permanent Ardbeg range since 2008, Corryvreckan is created from a blend of standard Ardbeg and Ardbeg aged in virgin French Limousin oak casks. Smoky bacon and seaweed, plus dark berries, prickly spices, walnuts, lemon, and sweet peat on the nose. Sweet and savory on the palate, with more lively spice, woodsmoke, phenols, and licorice. The finish is lengthy, with peat, sea salt, pepper, and black coffee. Editors’ Choice
Briny smoke integrates with sweet bakery aromas: vanilla, streusel, ginger-spiced pound cake, cinnamon, and allspice, studded with nuts and dried apple. With water, butterscotch oozes out. The palate’s silky texture is an ideal base for warm vanilla, toasted nuts, toffee, and milk chocolate, swirling with iodine peat and gentle gingerbread spices. The finish is complex, compelling, and quite lengthy with ginger, white pepper, allspice, saline, coffee grounds, dried apple, and lingering smoke. (Collectible)
Cask #3145 is the lighter in color, and the sweet notes that balance the smoke and seaweed are not as deeply caramelized as Cask #3542. I’m tasting hints of shortbread and caramel, which show through the peat smoke, tobacco, toasted nuts, firm spice notes (cinnamon, clove, and mint), and lingering brine. Very complex. Price listed includes the entire Double Barrel 1974 Vintage set.
Ardbeg’s first core bottling with an age statement in nearly 20 years was matured in bourbon and oloroso sherry casks. Rock pools, fabric Band-Aids, coal dust, licorice, hot peat, pineapple, and a seafood platter on the complex nose. The palate is oily, with smoked fish, overt peat smoke, chili, iodine, and lemon. Long in the finish, with more iodine and peppery peat. A delightfully traditional Ardbeg.
Launched in 2003, Uigeadail remains one of Ardbeg’s core offerings. Matured in a mix of sherry and bourbon barrels and bottled at cask strength. Peppery peat, warm tar, coffee grounds, machine oil, and black pepper on the nose. The palate is complex and rich, offering orange segments sprinkled with sea salt, dark chocolate, malt, and ever-present sweet peat. Nicely balanced. Lengthy in the finish, with smoky caramel.
Cask #3524 is darker, with notes of sticky toffee pudding and chewy caramel that firmly support the polished leather, cigar box, roasted chestnut, smoked seaweed, tar, dark chocolate, and, on the finish, espresso. A meditative whisky. Price listed includes entire Double Barrel 1974 Vintage set.
The youthful age statement may take many scotch drinkers by surprise, but don’t let double-digit bias prevent you from enjoying this exciting yet easy-drinking peat bomb. Salt water and seaweed, smoke and sweet peat tussle on the nose, while vanilla, fresh berries, and ample nuttiness spread out and take hold. The structured, balanced palate is creamy, nutty, and spiced, showcasing brown-sugar bacon, smoked salt, milk chocolate, pepper, and well-integrated oak, all wrapped up like a cigar with flakes of ash and sustained smoke. This precocious youngster shows more complexity than some whiskies twice its age, making it a remarkable find. Number 6 in the 2020 Top 20
Ardbeg's first standard release in nearly a decade, An Oa is matured in virgin oak, Pedro Ximénez, and bourbon barrels, with component whiskies married in the distillery's French oak 'Gathering Vat.' The nose offers sweet peat, smoky lemon rind, ginger, and angelica. A soft and sweet palate entry is followed by hot peat, black tea, peppery cloves, and aniseed. Black pepper lingers through the long, smoky finish.
Ardbeg doles out occasional limited releases for their avid fans, but for nearly a decade the core range consisted of just three whiskies: 10 year old, Uigeadail, and Corryvreckan. The addition of An Oa, matured in a combination of virgin oak, Pedro Ximénez sherry, and bourbon barrels, and married in a French oak ‘gathering vat’ prior to bottling, marks a reason to celebrate. An Oa is a more approachable Ardbeg. It lacks some of the typical oiliness, but flavor and complexity abound with hot peat, black tea, and peppery cloves. Die-hard Ardbeg fans should have no complaints, and new converts have a real treat in store. Number 6 in the 2017 Top 20
Ardbeg’s Feis Ile 2021 release was made available to the general public in June. Matured in heavily charred bourbon barrels to create a “scorching” effect. Fragrant peat and malt, dried seashells, brine, sea salt, and dockside wood on the nose. Richly layered on the palate—charcoal, iodine, and surprisingly balanced peat influence, considering this whisky’s name. Baked apple and a hint of bitter chocolate, cooked bananas, and dark berries on a long finish.
Fully matured in rye barrels. Butterscotch, almond paste, shortbread, lemon cake, and vanilla frosting on the nose—bakery aromas integrating with notes of crushed seashells and briny peat. The palate is soft, honeyed, and sweet, offering flavors of candied orange slices, iced tea, chocolate, and sugared espresso as a more pronounced peat influence emerges. A lengthy finish, as the peat drifts into the background, leaving a delicious pot of honey, candied fruit, and dark chocolate.
Similar to the standard Ardbeg 10 year old, except that a portion of the whisky was aged in heavily charred barrels (referred to as an “alligator” char). An aggressive whisky — even for Ardbeg — with a leathery texture throughout. Dynamic too, with coal tar, soot, bourbon barrel char, espresso, cocoa, licorice root, smoked fish, and a hint of ginger. There’s a nice creamy vanilla underbelly to balance the aggressiveness and (at least partially) muzzle the Alligator.
Bottled to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Ardbeg Committee. Woodsmoke on the nose, with coal fires, cedar, canned fruit cocktail, and mild antiseptic. Supple and sweet on the palate, with orchard fruits and an emerging wave of peppery, prickly peat smoke. Long in the sooty finish. Lively, with chile paste.
Full-on Ardbeg on the nose! Hot tar, lemon juice, charcuterie, thick peat smoke, ginger, and a hint of Jaffa oranges. The palate is oily and well-integrated, with black pepper, coal tar soap, cloves, vanilla, and orchard fruits. Spicy in the lengthy finish, with more tar, peat, and salty oak.
Classic ‘southern shores’ Islay from the onset: salty and medicinal on the nose, with smoked haddock, citrus fruits, and milk chocolate. The palate yields full-on hot peat, pipe tobacco, black coffee, licorice, and more chocolate. The finish is long and malty, with sweet smoke. Non-chill filtered.
Some of the best intensely smoky, peaty Islay whiskies are balanced with a foundation of malty sweetness. This whisky is an excellent example. A sinewy malt with the classic bold notes of kiln smoke, peat, tarry rope, and coal ash. Sweeter notes of honeyed malt, ripe vanilla, chocolate fudge, and toasted marshmallow temper and sooth the palate, along with background berry confit. The smoke lingers long on the palate. Ardbeg devotees will not be disappointed.
Ardbeg’s 2020 limited-edition cask-strength Committee Release was matured mainly
in pinot noir red wine casks from New Zealand, a country notable for its sheep, like
Islay. Woodsmoke on the nose, with coal fires, cedar, and canned fruit cocktail in a
mild antiseptic solution. Supple and sweet on the palate, with orchard fruits and an
emerging wave of peppery prickly peat smoke. Long in the sooty finish. Lively, with