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ARDBEG 23 YO (1974/1997, SIGNATORY, 43%)

Today is June, 2nd, so happy 66th birthday to the Italian Republic. Actually, Ardbeg chose this date for its annual celebration of the Ardbeg Day, so today every embassy in the world will pour the special bottling. We’re going to attend the Milanese event, dutifully arranged in the historical Bar Metro owned by Giorgio D’Ambrosio. As an archaic propitiatory ceremony, we taste this malt bottled by the independent bottler Signatory, which selected 4 casks for this vatting (#1047-48-52-54) when Stuart Thomson was still he ruled around Argyll. Thanks to Francesco for the sample.

N: it’s suddenly noticeable a hair-raising halo of complexity. There’s an astonishing “sweetness”, a solid but gentle smokiness, the brackish wind blowing on your face and even a magnificent balsamic side (eucalyptus). The vanilla is super intense, with green almonds, pure licorice and citrusy notes of lemon and cedar. The “sweet” aromas are enhanced by a maltiness of biscuits and warm croissants and by a delicious floral bouquet (sugary violet). The integration with the smokiness is so perfect that we are literally struck by a suggestion: burnt marshmellows! Everything is flavored by seaweed and sea breeze, very Ardbeg-style. No shortage of medicinal notes, either: cough syrup, indeed. We think we smelled also a soapy touch we’ve noticed only in few Bowmores before.

P: sweetness decreases compared to the nose. Nevertheless, the palate is still invaded by vanilla and woody licorice. Lemon (did anybody forget a slice of lemon in the ashtray, guys?) and cedar, with a weird, delicious waxy note and again that faint soapy sensation. The salty flavors are light. The smokiness is enjoyable and wise.

F: a carpet of marine smoke covered by another carpet of vanilla, incredibly persistent. Slightly bitter, dry, very good.

Like two elders, gnawed by an ancestral dissatisfaction, we’d say the palate is a bit de-powered compared to the nose (gentlemen from Signatory, would it be possible to taste the same whisky at cask strength?), but it’s still impressive for sweetness, intensity and quality. This is the only small flaw separating it from the utopian perfection. Our rate is 89/100here, Serge’s notes.

Recommended soundtrack: Al GreenLet’s stay together, because you know, let’s party.

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