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

February 22, 2019



Wee battles, today indie Ardbeg

All right, this is what I got yesterday from our very dedicated correspondent in Scotland: “Hi Serge. Here's the Ardbeg note for Friday. Hopefully you can find a suitable sparring partner.” And attached to that, this tasting note that would make 'War and Peace' a little short in comparison…




Ardbeg 25 yo 1993/2019 (55.5%, Single Malts Of Scotland ‘Director’s Special’ for the Whisky Show Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 175 bottles)

Ardbeg 25 yo 1993/2019 (55.5%, Single Malts Of Scotland ‘Director’s Special’ for the Whisky Show Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 175 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: very pure early 1990s Ardbeg initially. That is to say smouldering beach wood, tarry fishing nets, carbolic soap, wee flecks of iodine, sea salt, oysters, hessian, sheep wool, drying kelp and a wealth of vigorous seashore notes. Parts of it really even call back to a circa 1977 style of Ardbeg with these almost fatty tarry qualities. Rope, fishing wellies, brine, black olives and seawater mixed with sardine oil. Camphor, ash-rolled goat’s cheese and an increasingly farmy, slightly animalistic side. Pretty superb I’m afraid. With water: there’s real charm and elegance now. The medical complexities become accentuated and there’s TCP, ointments, antiseptic, herbal mouthwashes and gauze. Salted cod and soy sauce. Mouth: a little straighter and more direct here; we’re returning to the 1990s again. Notes of smoked plasticine, burning hay bales, salty canvas, tar liqueur, ointments, mercurochrome, more brine, crushed seashells, grilled limpets and smoked mussels. There’s even a rather textural paraffin and creosote side to it as well along with some hefty doses of crushed black pepper. With water: as on the nose it similarly becomes more complex, only here there’s also a velvety softness that accompanies that. A kind of jellied peat spooned out of the glass with sandalwood ash, bonfire smoke, BBQ sauce and smouldering rosemary branches. Finish: long, lightly leathery, gently ashy, very salty, peppery, briny and full of typical Ardbeg touches like tarry rope, shellfish, anchovy paste, some chopped herbs, lemon juice and - of course - peat. Comments: I hesitate to praise this whisky for obvious reasons, but I promise this is fantastic stuff. I really enjoy the way it ducks and dives between 1990s and 1970s characteristics, never settling or alighting in one place too long. It also keeps developing with water and time in a way which totally commands your attention and respect. It reminds me that it’s such a rare thing to fall in love with a new Ardbeg these days. A whisky riddled with pathos.
SGP: 477 - 92 points.




Good, another newish 1993 indie Ardbeg. Let’s find that…

Ardbeg 24 yo 1993/2018 (54.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 138 bottles)

Ardbeg 24 yo 1993/2018 (54.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 138 bottles) Four stars
Yeah well, that could be the problem, that the oak would be too sweet, imparting too much vanilla-ed creaminess to this pre-closure little Ardbeg, making it a little simple. Let’s see (I was joking, naturally)… On the other hand, it’s not probably not one of those gimmicky ones, so… Colour: gold. Nose: it is certainly a little simple, but I would add that that simplicity is rather an asset. It’s relatively young, certainly very medicinal (tinctures), with whiffs of beach fire (burning seaweed and floated wood),  some plasticine, some charcoal, and perhaps some white peaches. Barbecued white peaches. Also Barbour grease, charcoal, a little coal, a touch of potash. With water: bonbons, vanilla, marshmallows, a touch of cough syrup. Water seems to decrease a smokiness that wasn’t totally huge in the first place. Reminiscent of some younger Caol Ila at this point. Mouth (neat): narrow in the better sense of that word. Lemon drops, grass smoke, kiwis and rhubarb, touch of salt, hints of green coffee, some vanilla. There’s a little green sourness. With water: gets drier and greener. Chlorophyll, bitter chocolate. Finish: rather long, on salted greengages and quite some green oak. Cider apples and green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: careful with water! Rather drink neat!
SGP:567 - 87 points.

Holy featherless crow, looks like Angus won that one! But revenge is a dish best savoured cold, is it not…

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