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Ardbeg Drum (2019, OB, 46%)

Finally, here we are with the long-awaited judgment on Ardbeg Drum, the 2019 Ardbeg Day “limited” edition. Like every year, Ardbeg hosted a sumptuous Open Day all over the world and Milan has not been undone: a curiously Caribbean party, because Ardbeg some years ago decided to shift the whole production towards Jamaica: didn’t you know that? It seems that Mickey Heads is a great Reggae fan and rumour is that Bill Lumdsen is secretely in love with the most extreme marijuana varieties (as anyone could guess from the last Ardbeg and Glenmorangie releases, something that could only be created by a junkie).
Ok, maybe that’s not entirely true. Anyway, this no age Ardbeg spent its life (or just a part of it, it’s not stated) in ex Rum casks. And the Milanese party had plenty of pineapples, papayas and scantily-clad South American girls.

N. extra sugary and citrus notes stand out. Something that recalls the exuberant freshness of lime. In a split second you could imagine sugar cane syrup, mint: a lovely Mojito. Green banana, too. The maritime Dna is still there, it’s not muffled at all. The peat is not aggressive, very fresh and “green”, it smells like it’s mixed with sugar and lime: peat & sour. Let’s face it: nothing wrong here. 

T. this carefree drinkabilty leads to a weak mouthfeel. It’s 46 abv, but it tastes like it was watered down. Furthermore, there’s a huge amount of white sugar (new make?). Bananas and lemons. The smoke and the sea breeze come out, but in a very light version. An Islay’s echo that in a blind taste could make you shout: “Ardbeg!”

F. sweet, sweet, sweet. Burnt sugar with the peat turning up the volume. Sugary and lemony candies.

A paradoxical Ardbeg with a heavy rum finishing but resulting pretty tamed. This year LVMH’s distillery wanted to surprise its fans. It’s disorienting with its pronounced sweetness, but we can’t flunk it: 85/100, consistent with latest releases. As we wrote in the past, it’s a pleasant whisky, but it’s also something very far from the Ardbegs that we used to fall in love with. And again, if it would be a 40 euro entry level, no one would have a bad word. Probably an Ardbeg beginner would be satisfied by this dram. We put our thinking cap on and we can’t make head nor tail of it. And if anyone would ask us “would you buy this bottle?”, we’d shake our head and we’d escape to Jamaica with Bill Lumsden, asking for a rolling paper.

Recommended soundtrack: Barrington Levy – Don’t Fuss nor Fight.

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