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

May 1, 2023


WF's Little Duos, today two young indie Ardbeg

So, no bizarre finishings or wood sorcery today, rather, we hope, this immaculate distillate in its purest, unadulterated form. Well, we'll see…

Picture, bunch of friends at Roland Puhl's
a.k.a. the MARA Cellar, early to mid 2000s.




Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky 2009/2023 (53.3%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired, Whisky Icons, Roland Puhl, 250 bottles)

Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky 2009/2023 (53.3%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired, Whisky Icons, Roland Puhl, 250 bottles) Five stars
It says 210 bottles but that's a misprint. They've also quoted Roland Puhl (R.I.P.): 'a robust dram but excellent gulp', which, according to high-ranked persons who are very close to the bottlers, would make it clear that this was Ardbeg. Roland Puhl was the co-founder of the seminal whisky shop 'Malt Rarities' a.k.a. MARA, which in turn originated Limburg's very famous Whisky Fair 'where more whisky has flown than water in the nearby river Lahn' (but don't quote me). Roland was a formidable human being. Colour: white wine. Even the colour makes you think of 'beg. Nose: sublimely pure indeed, with massive iodine, chalk, seaweed, this funny coastal plant that we often find in Ardbeg, samphire, then oysters and these tarry ashes that leave little doubt indeed. Totally crystalline, our favourite style. With water: this is where white wines are kicking in, especially the most petroly rieslings. Plus the expected bandages, embrocations and ointments, although I wouldn't call it 'medicinal'. Mouth (neat): this famous feeling of having mistakenly wolved down the content of an ashtray around 4 in the morning, plus some mercurochrome, white pepper, green lemons (not lime) and just seawater. Also white currants. It's a blade. With water: geared towards ultra-tight, salty fino sherry. Finish: very long, still ultra-tight, never losing focus. Salted lemon juice, oysters, ashes etc in an aftertaste that would leave your mouth fresh as baby's, despite all the smoke and ashes. Comments: these are why we believe Ardbeg remains one of the grands crus of Scotch malt whisky. I'm sure Roland is happy.
SGP:467 - 92 points.

Perhaps an earlier indie as today's sparring partner, as I don't think many modern OBs would stand a chance against that secret 2009…

Ardbeg 9 yo 1990/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 372 bottles)

Ardbeg 9 yo 1990/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 372 bottles) Five stars
One of the early OMCs and certainly one of the youngest. We've already tried this one when it came out, but we've never published any tasting notes on WF, so let's revisit it if you don't mind, after a good twenty years of bottle aging. Colour: white wine. Nose: a little 'sweeter' and a little more medicinal, more camphory, with metallic touches and whiffs of beach sand at low tide. I believe there is a little (good) OBE in action, these kinds of camphory notes give it away. The slightly metallic ones too. This is probably not a 9 years old anymore, after all shouldn't we call it a 9+23 years old?! With water: seawater and tincture of iodine, tiny touch of marrow and suet. Mouth (neat): it remained a little rough on the palate, peppery, hot, spicy, and quite fat. Sunflower oil… But lemons and grapefruits are magnificent. Chilli and ashes, 'that ashtray', kelp, seawater… Seriously, it's super perfect and I'm dead sure it improved over the years in glass. With water: lemon and brine in majesty. It keeps improving. Finish: sublime fattish fish oil and lemon liqueur, plus seawater. Comments: I never wrote any proper note but I did score it 87/100 twenty odd years ago. I'm sure it's gained 4 points since back then, this is absolutely not a 9 years old Ardbeg anymore. I mean, organoleptically speaking. Buy the great whiskies young and cellar them!

SGP:557 - 91 points.

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