Tonight the guys from Milano Whisky Festival are going to hold a tasting of five peated drams from Islay. Of course we’re attending, and we give you a little spoiler, with an unutterable but gorgeous expression of Ardbeg. Airigh Nam Beist (“Shelter of the Beast”) is a 1990 vintage, bottled in three different batches between 2006 and 2008. We taste the last version, but tonight in the tasting the former edition will be available. The connoisseurs say that this is one of the best bottles released by the new Ardbeg owners. Let’s check if it’s true…
N: sharp and medicinal at first. The smokiness is clear, but not all-embracing. It’s sweet, chocolate and honey. With very few drops of water opens up and a nice aroma of warm wood, left to dry in the sun. Some vanilla and an abstract sense of ripe fruit (peaches?). Sweet tobacco and leather, a citrusy background, tamarind. The typical coastal and peated notes build a frame, without overwhelming.
P: woah. Powerful peat, powerful salt and a hint of pepper. Coffee, too. After a while, everything softens, it becomes really creamy, like the cake batter, with melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Lemon and honey. Gorgeous.
F: very persistent, focused on peaty and smoky notes. It’s grassy, either, and slightly acidic (citrusy, with burnt orange peel). Chocolate. And it leaves salt on your lips.
Top class. Probably the Beast is not at the level of those famous ‘70s Ardbegs, but it’s certainly excellent. It’s a typical strong Islay malt, combining the cold coastal peat from Port Ellen and a sober, delicious sweetness. We missed the Ardbeg Golden Age, so this works as a benchmark for us: 90/100, and it’s such a pity that the bottle is now empty. Serge thinks this way and Ruben this.
Recommended soundtrack: Zwan – The number of the beast (of course), acoustic cover of the Iron Maiden’s song, from Spun OST.