Now, when that name is put up anywhere, just by itself, we gush over it here at /r/Scotch like a specialty porn star.
And it’s not really a surprise. They make amazing stuff. It’s peaty, it’s finished well, and they even have NAS product that we enjoy.
So when I decided to go forth with this limited edition review bonanza, I didn’t know how it would turn out. Would I end up fanboying all over the place? Would my credibility take another Tobermory-like hit? Am I insane for wondering if I had any left to begin with?
Also, have I beaten the multireview format to death? Hopefully not, this is the first of many I have planned for the next while.
Well, we’d have to see.
Ardbeg distillery is off a small cove on the south coast of Islay. Before 1815, it was a smugglers paradise. However as they croaked, seeing themselves in peat smoke, they became the distillery that little brewers wanna be like, and because their so good, we’re on our knees in the night says prayers in the street light.
Let’s get this out of the way first:
Starting off, thanks to /u/texacer for the swap of this dram. I know it took a lot to finally agree to swap with me.
The 2014 Limited Edition release for Ardbeg Day was Ardbeg Auriverdes. Aged in American white oak ex-Bourbon barrels, shipped over from (big surprise) the US, the heads removed and replaced with new American oak heads made for them under a secret toasting regime.
Does “Secret Toasting Regime” sound like what pot heads do before coming to school?
Anyway, this is a cask strength Ardbeg NAS that is blended with the above and Ardbeg from 1st and 2nd fill Bourbon barrels.
Oh, and it’s named for Green and Gold. Because honestly, finding the above was pulling teeth, but I was told about 3000 times that the name means green and gold and that’s the colours of Brasil.
Fuck sake people, we’re whisky drinkers, not kindergartners. I don’t need to be told about football.
Anyway, let’s see how this year’s experiment turned out.
Price: N/A in Ontario… yet.
Colour: Light pee
Nose: Sweet peat, pear, licorice, nutmeg, campfire
Starts out with a sweeter peat than I’m used to, and a little less strong than past cask strength Ardbeg’s I’ve had. Each flavour is easy to pick out and individual. The Bourbon casks have added a vanilla sweetness that has blended into it.
However I wish it was stronger.
Taste: Strawberry, peat, anise, butter, salami, peanut oil, cocoa
The peat takes second fiddle here. Overall it has some interesting flavours, yet they are so weak my dead grandparents could take it in a fight. And win.
Don’t get me wrong; this could be interesting without the peat, yet it’s not stepping up, and is quite watery.
Finish: Mushroom, chocolate, peanut, caramel, salty, sesame, curry powder…. smoke
Finally, something I can sink my teeth into. A lot of Canadian-Chinese flavours here, and a nice amount of earth mixed in too. Lasts a moderate amount of time as well.
Conclusion: So… what is this, really? Let’s take a step away, pretend there’s no peat, and pretend this isn’t Ardbeg.
It had a weak nose, with some elements that tried. The flavour wasn’t strong enough to really evoke the complexity that a NAS Special edition whisky should have. The finish was earthy, sweet, complex, and moderate.
Thus, this isn’t a bad whisky, however there’s better peated and unpeated whisky out there.
So back in 2012, when we were young but not so much kids, Ardbeg sent some new-make spirit up into space to age the first ever inter-stellar whisky.
And I couldn’t be happier. That’s just cool, by itself.
This isn’t that whisky. Let’s get that RIGHT out of the way. This is just a tribute. They couldn’t release the Greatest inter-stellar whisky in the world, no no. This is a Tribute, oh, to the Greatest inter-stellar whisky in the world.
And the peculiar thing is this my friends: the whisky they made in that fateful never ending night? It doesn’t actually taste anything like this whisky
And holy shit, it actually has an age and easy to find information. What a crazy time 2012 was.
Ardbeg Galileo is a 12 year old whisky that was matured in both ex-Marsala and ex-Bourbon barrels.
Quick bias warning: I have had Marsala wine before, in cooking, and… I’m not a fan. I’ll admit that right here and now. That being said: I’ve only ever had one other ex-Marsala whisky, and I may just enjoy this one more than I know. I’ll try to keep this out of my head during the review.
Price:No longer available at the LCBO
Okay, I’ll try harder.
Colour: Corn syrup
Nose: Peat, pear, dry, light chocolate, sea air, liquorice gum, little earth
Weaker nose again on this one versus what I’m used to with other Ardbeg releases. However, given some time and letting it open up, it eventually has an almost Laphroaig like profile to it, and the wine shines through to add some nice dryness to it.
Taste: Anise, sea salt, pear, apple, lemon zest, cedar, white chocolate
The flavour, on the other hand, has shown up and apologized into the future for Auriverdes. This is basically what I want from a Canuck whisky, with the cedar and sweet notes, however with some age behind it.
Like the difference between dating a confident older person versus a young, un-confident one. One does what they do well and the other ends up crying after sex.
Oh to be young again.
Finish: Peat, cocoa, BBQ, nutmeg, oatmeal, cinnamon, cashew
And the peat came back…. at the finish, not really the next day.
Spicy too. Somewhat one sided though. Needs something fruity to balance it out away from spicy and earth.
Conclusion: I actually like this. Not love it, but I’m happy I ended up with it in the end. It has a lot of spice and earth to it though, so it could use some more fruit in the finish to balance that out. And in the nose.
Maybe not use Marsala casks and instead a white wine cask? Wait, I’m not in charge of a distillery… I’m going to show myself to the next review now.
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #144
Ardbeg Alligator is up next, and… well, I bought it, though you can’t anymore.
I didn’t know how to react to this one, to tell you the truth. It’s a 10 year old CS version of the standard Ardbeg, which I like, however I probably gave a little too high of a score.
But wait! There’s more!
Yes, this used a special deep Alligator char, which is charred so much that the barrel ends up with this deep, Alligator like skin chars. The char was relentless, yes it’s true, but let’s stop, before my motormouth runs over you.
Price: Can’t really remember, but cheaper than in the UK, so for once I can brag about a deal.
Nose: Cracked pepper, peat, sea brine, licorice, light coffee, shaving cream
Here’s the strong, deep flavour that you’ll be used to with Ardbeg. It seems to be slightly more developed in this over the standard 10 year.
Taste: Coffee, peat, anise, peach nectar, green tea, cinnamon
There’s more of a Jagermeister flavour in this one than others. It’s more herbals.
And not Jager nights, where you wake up without pants, with STDs, on top of a car, in a Denny’s parking lot.
Finish: Peat, moss, leather, white chocolate, mint, cinnamon
I used to deliver peat moss as part of the Scouts. Because I felt I needed some more nerd cred.
This finish reminds me of that, however with more herbals undertones.
Conclusion: This gator’s herbal. Which is odd, because the last time I had gator, it was fried with some spicy.
Seriously though, this tastes like a herbed, cask strength version of the 10 year, which isn’t something to complain about. It hits the right notes, it has other flavours to not overwhelm you, and it’s a good experiment. Doesn’t need to be made again, however tasty.
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #145
Ardbog. I mean, I think they are just getting lazy. It just has 1 name. They just changed one letter.
This was the special edition for 2013 Ardbeg Day. It’s aged in a combination of Manzanilla sherry casks and ex-Bourbon casks.
Sounds familiar, right? Too a certain Oog? Well, except it has less Abv, only came out once, and has a silly name.
I mean, what, am I suppose to drink it totally emotionless except for my heart, mud flowed up my pajamas, and totally confusing all the passing piranhas?
What kinda insane person would do that? Sitting alone in a boggy marsh? No, no, you make no sense Ardbeg, let’s just drink this.
Nose: Peat, sour pear, nutmeg, ginger, leather, the tide is out and the harbour’s not clean
Yeah, this tastes dirty. Not dirty enough to not put in my mouth, however if you met me when I was 19, you’d know that doesn’t really mean much.
I am so lucky I don’t have the HerpasyphagohnAIDS.
Anyway, it’s interesting. There’s some spicy in the harbour mess too, which is nice.
Taste: Bog water, metal, cinnamon tea, herbal liquor, licorice, black pipe candy, birch sap
Yes I fell in the bog as a child, playing in them. No, I didn’t enjoy it.
Eventually this tries to act like the Alligator, what with the herbal liquour elements, however it doesn’t really change from Anise in the end. And some dry, sweet sap.
The bog water and metallic eventually die down enough to enjoy this.
Finish: Brine, smoke, cedar, burnt sugar, sour funk, pepper, dry cider, birch sap
There’s elements of good and bad here. It’s hard to tell if I enjoy it. Eventually the burnt elements leave and this tastes good, however that first couple swallows…
Well, I didn’t mention I was a dirty teen.
Conclusion: I don’t really know what to say. It smells like a nice Ardbeg drank at the Pier. The taste starts bad and then apologizes and is nice. The finish starts off burnt and like a young, not okay Bourbon and then ends in this dry, smokey whisky.
It’s interesting, that’s what I’ll say
Scotch reviews #187-190, Islay reviews #42-45, Whisky Network reviews #263-266