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Ardbeg ‘Grooves’ (2018, OB, 46%)

This is the moment of the year were the heat starts to moisten our will; in which the high school students start preparing eggs and flour for the last day of school, not caring about the last oral test since destiny is already marked at this point; in which girls are wearing always shorter shorts (!) and the freshness of the legs stuns the passersby; (!) in which the first sirens of the soccer transfer windows start to fil the national newspapers, and already we wait for the first panther sighted in Abruzzo; in which supermarkets blast AC forcing you to keep a cardigan in the car, knowing that a sore throat is there, hiding behind the fruit stand; in which the fruit stand itself starts to radiate persuasive aromas of juicy peaches and golden apricots to unaware customers; in short, this is the moment of the year in which Ardbeg releases the annual limited edition. This year it’s time for the “Grooves”, with a marketing story inspired by the Summer of Love, Peat ‘n’ Love, hippy… even if frankly, we miss the sense – but it’s our fault! It’s just that sometimes, reading certain press releases, takes some effort… It’s the usual NAS (no age statement) aged – so it seems – in ex-wine casks (which one? No clue), heavily charred to make the wood very active, it pretends to be a very limited edition, but it can be casually found on the shelfs until next year, at least. Thrilling story, ain’t it?, and not even on the official website the effort of a better explanation is taken (they only talk about “our grooviest cask”). We had the change to try it during the Ardbeg day event of last Saturday, we took a sample to get the change of savor it again at home, with calm: here it is.

N: very aromatic, open and pleasant – there is a clear citrusy freshness (lime and cedar), the predominant feeling is a thick blanket or sugary, caramelized and a sense of burnt stuff burned (sugar cane, cinnamon and honey treats; and how to forget a candied red apple?; Store bought croissant with sugar and apple). We obviously can’t neglect the Islay side: smoky peat, intense but not overpowering, sea breeze, iodine, really very pleasant. 

P: it starts right away with the convincing duo burnt sugar / tarry peat, here with an increasing tarry-ness (a hint of burnt tire – you might say: “have you ever tried a burnt tire?” Mind your business, impertinent, we eat whatever we like); the sip maintains a certain agility, thanks to those citrusy and sapid notes in the front line. But the surprise is behind the corner: right when the awaited evolution from consistent to explosive is expected, this Ardbeg vanishes, beginning from the mouth feeling, it gets really watery and it rapidly turns into..

F: .. an epilog of sweetness a bit undefined, simple and not exactly exciting. Again very persistent notes of burnt tired and salt. Like every yeaaaarrrrrrr…. like last yeaaaaarrrrrr…. we find ourselves commenting a very fair product, honest also if a bit unbalanced toward the sweet side – but as always, this is the expected result from the unceasing use of these kind of woods, and it’s fine like it is. It remains the usual embarrassment of giving a vote: undoubtedly a very fair whisky, will be surely appreciated by many newbies but probably won’t fully satisfy more educated palates – and it costs 125€. 85/100 it is! We can’t deny that, with the same money investment we can buy three Ardbeg Ten, two Corryvreckan, two Uigeadail – or a Uigeadail and a Corryvreckan, well, you got it…

Recommended soundtrack: Cream – Sunshine of your love.

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