Last summer, Ardbeg surprised all its fetishists fans releasing a… normal bottling! Normal as Arbeg used to be in the past: age statement bottles without marketing, storytelling, space oddities, Brazil and smuggling. A normal 21 yo, first official bottling with these features since the 2008 Airigh Nam Beist (except The Ten, of course). Gaudeamus igitur, because we have a sample in our lucky hands.
N: wonderfully powerful, considering the 46% ABV. Among the typical Ardbeg descriptors, the medicinal/balsamic side stands out (bandages, camphor, eucalyptus). The peat’ smoke is acrid, followed by lemon, lime and licorice. The marine mood is not overwhelming, but a iodine sensation is evident, indeed. Sugared almonds, vanilla and a huge impact of the ex bourbon cask. Ginger and golden apples.
P: it’s a real sensorial massacre! Intense, compact, bursting. The balsamic notes are still here (eucalyptus again, and pine needles), but now they’re fused in a solid sweetness. It tastes like a paradoxical mix between fudge, roasted pork belly and overripe tropical fruit. Bizarre, but tempting. Same strong vanilla influence, salt, licorice, lemon and tar. Everything melted together.
F: the classic Ardbeg finish, ashy and burnt, astonishingly long and charming.
Onestly: what a glorious surprise! Ardbeg didn’t earn its well-deserved status of cult distillery neither thanks to press releases nor to posh events: it earned the glory with gorgeous whiskies. And this 21 yo is one of that breed. An outstanding malt, that stresses the gentler side of the distillery. 92/100 is our judgment. It costs 350 euro, so it’s not exactly cheap, but if you think that it costs “only” thrice the price of the annual realease… Well, we’re ready to save money for three years to buy a bottle.
Recommended soundtrack: Phantom of the Opera – (VoicePlay feat. Rachel Potter)