Ardbeg’s latest core range addition sure shook some things up. In one corner we have the influencers, praising the bottle no matter what. In the other corner we have the sceptics, grumpy and disappointed and wanting everybody to know.
We don’t really care what label is slapped onto us, but we are honest guys at all cost, so being called influencer makes us throw up a little bit. We just consider ourselves two small guys in a big pool of whisky lovers, trying to figure out what we do or don’t like in the ever expanding stream of whiskies.
What we consider a good whisky, might be considered a bad one for others, or the other way around. We taste, we write down and we share the experience. We try to do this without pushing the reader too much into a corner. Heck, even Dion and I have very different preferences from time to time, and we respect each other’s views.
It’s really funny, with some bottles we switched our opinions. For example: I liked some at first, but not so much when the last drop escaped the bottle, and Dion bought another because he fell in love, while at first he couldn’t care less. So we make a good practice out of revisiting our opinions from time to time. And to be fair: the day that we really want to throw a whisky down the sink, is yet to come.
That being said, let’s have a look at this 5 year old Ardbeg. Our first sips were very promising, quite to our surprise. But being slightly doubtful about this outcome, we decided to hold off to the review until half the bottle was done. And there it is: this beastie had different outcomes in different pairings and situations.
The nose is really enjoyable, a fruit basket, fudge and quite tropical at first. But then a wild array of savoury flavours enter the nose: BBQ, mushrooms, peppers, onions, honey, dill, bacon, eggs and buttery corn. A coal damp to remind us: in our heads we’re on Islay right now.
The palate is creamy and sweet, with vanilla ice cream when entering the mouth. But it soon transforms into something ashy and spicy. Some onions made it from the nose onto the palate, but it seems like the bbq party is over. Or is it?
Here we go again: mushrooms, savoury ham, sweet fudge, mango and passion fruit, drying off into eucalyptus and rosemary. We would’ve liked the finish to last a while longer.
Bottled at 47.1% ABV and (most likely partially) matured on sherry casks, with a price that’s equal to its 10 year old brother, we must say that we find this a worthwhile addition to the cabinet. For once, or maybe twice. The palate and nose lack some punch, so the dram easily fades when paired with stronger whiskies. But in the right setting, it definitely manages to shine.