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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

July 26, 2013


Tasting two new independent Ardbeg

While some new small batch officials are partly wine-driven (lightly so!) the indies keep issuing a few more ‘natural’ expressions. Yes you may call that ‘traditional’ if you like. Let’s have two of them today…

Ardbeg 'Batch 4' (52.4%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 427 bottles)

Ardbeg 'Batch 4' (52.4%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 427 bottles) Five stars Batch 1 has been excellent! Not too sure how they ‘bake’ these elusive batches I have to say, but it’s always fun to see a good friend on a label. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s typical modern Ardbeg, with probably less tarry and straightly phenolic notes than older ones, but maybe more brine and seawater on the one side, and garden bonfire on the other side (burning leaves and hay). There’s a feeling of menthol cigarettes – their smoke – and then a pretty massive development on all things medicinal, especially antiseptic. Also a newly opened pack of smoked almonds? Even heavily smoked salmon? Nice complexity. After fifteen minutes: more lemon juice. With water: yess! It became both drier and (even) smokier. Motor oil, hot tarmac in the middle of July ;-), this menthol again, a plate of smoked fish… And grapefruits. Mouth (neat): starts as sweet as Ardbeg can be, before the heavy smoke kicks in. So vanilla and crystallised lemon, then an acrid smokiness that’s exactly what we were expecting. This feeling of ‘eating an ashtray’. This one’s also moderately salty this time. With water: excellent. I don’t know if this is a vatting from various sources but it does taste like a single cask, meaning it’s very ‘focused’ now, very ‘precise’. Beautiful lemon, almond oil and touches of seashells. Say clams. Perfect smoke. Finish: long, not that salty, smoky, ashy and Ardbeggy. You bet! Comments: I’m very happy. I think this is a style that the owners (of the distillery) should produce too. SGP:468 - 90 points.

Ardbeg 19 yo 1993/2013 (57.9%, Cadenhead, bourbon hoghsead, 302 bottles)

Ardbeg 19 yo 1993/2013 (57.9%, Cadenhead, bourbon hoghsead, 302 bottles) Four stars and a half This charming little baby was bottled right this month. I believe it’s from these very small batches that the Laphroaig crew used to make from time to time while Ardbeg was almost dormant. Colour: white wine. Nose: much more austere than the NAS, grassier, smokier, with even some mustard and a lot of earth and bitter roots. In other words, it’s very gentiany on the nose. Just like the previous one, it’s also got a lot of grass smoke and then more tar and pitch, which was less there in the NAS. Also seaweed and maybe pickled samphires. Ever tried that? After ten minutes: these big notes of a working kiln, very ‘Ardbeg’. After fifteen minutes: a little more sweeter aromas, but not much. Grapefruits? With water: wild! Burnt butter, coal, hessian (old forgotten bags) and a lot of ashes and smoke. The peatines is quite massive. Mouth (neat): yes! This sharp, chiselled, slightly oily (and fruity) arrival is unmistakenly Ardbeg. Big ashes, big lemon drops (I mean a lot of them), a lot of gentian and this astringent and acrid profile that keeps growing and growing. Olive oil, a lot of that. Maybe a wee hint of cardboard too, but that’s nothing. Powerful ultra-clean Ardbeg. With water: it’s a wee bit less focused than the NAS at this point, there are drops of seawater that we love in the nose but maybe not always on the palate. The rest is perfect, very kippery, with perfect citrus. Straight lime juice. Finish: long, a little grassy and generally green. Rhubarb? (that’s certainly green!) The aftertaste is saltier than the Boutique’s. Comments: very high quality again. Maybe this one is a wee notch less immediately ‘wow’ and has a few very tiny shaky aspects, but other than that, it’s a superb Ardbeg that’ll beat many more well-known ones. Hands down! SGP:467 - 89 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Ardbeg I've tasted so far


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