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

October 14, 2019


A trio of newish Ardbeg

There are two recent ‘rather wined’ Ardbegs, one by Malts of Scotland and one by Elixir, which we’re happy to try today. We’ll throw in the official 19 while we’re at it, let’s not wait any further with that one, even if the whole world has already tried it.

Ardbeg 2000/2019 (52.1%, Malts of Scotland, cask #MoS19026, 97 bottles)

Ardbeg 2000/2019 (52.1%, Malts of Scotland, cask #MoS19026, 97 bottles) Four stars
This one’s nicknamed ‘Another little Miss Piggy’ on the label ‘, possibly some private joke or something. Looks like this is full maturing in a Port cask, not quick flavouring. I mean, quick finishing.  Colour: amber. Nose: let’s say it, peat and Port usually clash in my book (ever tried smoked muesli or strawberry jam?) but in this very case, that’s exactly not what’s happening. Did they STR-ise a pipe? Some smoke of course, roasted chestnuts, brownies, some kind of smoked toffee, a touch of old Jamaican rum, then those very Ardbeggy tarry/coastal elements, plus a touch of pine resin. Works so far. With water: we have a kind of jam called ‘la confiture du vieux garçon’, never found any proper translation. It’s a kind of jam that’s made with dried fruits, preserved ones, some spices (aniseed, cinnamon) and whichever spirit you’ve got at hand, usually rum or eau-de-vie. Right, or Ardbeg. Mouth (neat): it is sweeter than your average Ardbeg, and indeed, you’ll find some strawberry gums, cassis, redcurrants, and even cherries form the Port, but the spiciness (caraway, cloves, cracked pepper) and the tarry peat combine well. It’s just that the Port may have offset a part of the coastalness – no big deal. With water: it got more Ardbeggian, especially saltier. Salted bittersweet fruits or something. Finish: long, with even more confiture du vieux garçon. Or old bachelor’s jam? Comments: not my preferred style in general, but I like this very varianty Ardbeg rather a lot.
SGP:566 - 87 points.

Ar11 2001/2019 (56.8%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 1st Fill Pedro Ximenez Butt, 840 bottles)

Ar11 2001/2019 (56.8%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 1st Fill Pedro Ximenez Butt, 840 bottles) Five stars
Last year’s Ar10 was amazing (WF 92) but that was a classic bourbon cask. Classic and often unbeatable, but you never know… Colour: full gold. Nose: first fill PX, really? Because this is neither stuffy, nor heady, nor ueber-raisiny, it rather lets the distillate shine and sing. In short, this is clearly and totally Ardbeg, with just a layer of bright citrus over it. Citrons, tangerines, bergamots… With water: oh, old ropes, seaweed, sea breeze, perhaps even a tiny oyster that happened to be crawling by... Mouth (neat): the cask’s a little more obvious on the palate, with more dried berries (raisins, goji) and a firmer cake-iness (cinnamon cake), as well as a large amount of marmalade and just touches of juniper. However, balance has been reached. With water: even more PXness after reduction, but it remains fresh – if not refreshing. Finish: rather long and frankly on berries, raisins, and yeah, Pedro. The good news is that citrus fruits are back in the aftertaste, with this uplifting-quality that’s always a hit. Comments: I was going for 89 until the fresh and bright aftertaste put the baby back on the tracks.
SGP:656 - 90 points.

What did we said we’d have as #3? Ah, you’re right…

Ardbeg 19 yo ‘Traigh Bhan’ (46.2%, OB, 2019)

Ardbeg 19 yo ‘Traigh Bhan’ (46.2%, OB, 2019) Four stars and a half
Even if there’s a pretty Diageo-y batch number (Distillers’ Editions), this one’s meant to become a new permanent age-dated Ardbeg, so no need to rush out I suppose. What’s really very strange is that no one would have expected them to have enough stocks of older whisky to do this. Are the stocks of older Scotch malt whisky exhausted or not? Wasn’t that the rationale behind the whole NAS shebang? This is a mix of ex-American wood and oloroso sherry. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather fruitier and lighter than other Ardbegs, but that may be the sherry, not too sure. Other than that, I find it pretty simple, and yet rather perfect. I’d say, preserved pineapple, pink grapefruit, new Wellies, and a few whelks or clams. So natural rubber rather than tar, but the whole works perfectly, even if this is a quatuor da camera rather than a philharmonic orchestra. Mouth: it’s easy, fruitier Ardbeg, with rather more tropical fruits this time, guavas, a little vanilla and even coconut, white chocolate, and then rather smokier and sappier notes, smoked almonds, clams indeed, sweeter lemons, and a subtle rubber. Some vanillin as well, orange blossom… Finish: medium, very soft for Ardbeg, going towards green tea blended with just a little lapsang souchong. Add a wee spoonful of manuka honey and just a few ashes and tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s surprisingly soft and easy -white chocolate in Ardbeg! – but I have to say I enjoy it rather a lot, even if we’re very far from the 1970s. As they say, the the world is divided into two kinds of people, those who’ve tried quite some early-to-mid 1970s Ardbeg, and those who have not.
SGP:656 - 88 points.

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







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