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

May 14, 2018


Ardbeg because we love to

We’ve had quite a few newer Ardbegs recently, but today we’ll have two older ones. No message here, whether hidden or not, that’s just what our assistant (Aston the Scottish fold) has chosen for us… Well, not exactly, he’s rather busy with his new croquettes these days…

Ardbeg 1991/2000 (46%, Murray McDavid, cask #MM 3112)

Ardbeg 1991/2000 (46%, Murray McDavid, cask #MM 3112) Three stars and a half
Remember these? I’ve tried quite a few batches back then but this one had slipped through my fingers. They did make many miniatures out of this wee vatting, and indeed I’m trying this one from such a miniature. One less for the collectors! Colour: white wine. Nose: it is simpler Ardbeg, with oysters, a touch of barley sugar, a wee bit of icing sugar, three drops of lime juice, a glass of fresh cider (without all the sugars that brands are adding to cider), and some cigarette smoke that gets in your eyes (according to Jerome Kern). It’s nice, it’s easy, it’s simple. Mouth: good, slightly fermentary and a bit too rubbery, perhaps, with a pleasant saltiness and quite some bottled lemon juice. The smokiness is rather on the tarry side, while there’s more and more salt. Smoked salmon, kippers, more smoked salmon… Finish: medium, a tad sour in a good way (more cider), salty and kippery. Comments: perhaps not an Ardbeg to write home about, but at a similar age (9 here), contemporary ‘begs appear to be smokier and thinner (meaning less oily) at the same time. Good not great, as we used to say…
SGP:456 - 84 points.

While we’re in the olden days…

Ardbeg 1975/1999 (45.2%, OB, hand bottled at the distillery, sherry, cask #4702, 214 bottles)

Ardbeg 1975/1999 (45.2%, OB, hand bottled at the distillery, sherry, cask #4702, 261 bottles) Five stars
All right, this one comes with a little story. In fact my very good young Singaporean friend and co-Malt Maniac Benjamin Chen and his lovely wife Marilyn just had an equally lovely baby named Lelia. Beautiful name, that’s nicer than whisky folks naming their offspring Charlotte, Magdalene or Ellen – not to mention Cherie - if you ask me! Anyway, Benjamin made this wee Ardbeg kind of the official dram to celebrate Lelia’s birth, and just mailed me a few cls so that we could all celebrate accordingly. How charming, isn’t it! So let us proceed…

Colour: apricoty gold. Nose: of course. It’s like when you’ve listened to zillions of rock and roll records and you get back to the Zauberflöte. There’s something obvious and unstoppable to this. Roasted chestnuts and fumes, perhaps, old embrocations and leather polish, most certainly. Whiffs of old kinds of oils that even our fathers had forgotten about, then this very peculiar meatiness that only great sherry could bring to whiskies, around proper artisan bresaola and Grisons meat. All that is smoked to perfection, no need to say.

Mouth: I could start swearing but we’re celebrating a birth, aren’t we. This is rather fat, the sherry cask was perfect (it was not quickly re-seasoned in any Scottish ‘bodega’), there is some tobacco for sure, Seville oranges, some eucalyptus most certainly, a complex spice mix (star anise, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds…) and, above everything, this rich and salty Ardbegness that’s not often to be encountered these days. Let’s say older Ardbegs used to resemble proper cough medicine, if you like. Now what’s proper cough medicine? A personal feeling, I would say. Finish: long, with wee fermentary touches that are just perfect. Almond milk and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s not unusual that ‘sherry’ and ‘peat’ are simply clashing, in my opinion, but proper sherry wood and old Ardbeg would just tango throughout the night, until WE are exhausted. Congrats, Marilyn and Ben, and welcome, Liela!
SGP:467 - 93 points (100 points to Lelia!)


More tasting notesCheck the index of all Ardbeg we've tasted so far






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