Ardbeg 1974 Signatory Vintage [Feather’s Flight Review Set #14]

ardbeg.jpg

So after dinner, after I’ve enjoyed my meal (hmmm… salmon burger with winter salad…), and most importantly, after I’ve had a chance to clear off my tongue with a litre of water, I’m ready for my next birthday dram at Feather’s Pub.

It’s a thing I do every so often. Three times a year, if I’m being honest. 20 if I’m lying. 40 if I’m blowing smoke up your ass.

And speaking of smoke, it’s time to pass the peat barrier. For all you new Scotch drinkers, the peat barrier is the idea that when reviewing you never have something peated and then review something unpeated. The reason? You’ve fucked your tongue.

No, not in that great Las Vegas the whisky is alive and fucking my tongue way. More in the “you can’t taste shit” way.

Ardbeg 1974 Signatory Vintage is one of the few 1970 whiskies at The Feather’s Pub that I have never had. And that’s how I brag, thank you very much.

70’s Ardbeg is a little bit of a Unicorn for me. I keep hearing great things, and tasting even better things. It’s back when they were doing well and taking names and not running out of business. Before Glenmorangie bought them, before the casks got rough, and before the robots attacked.

Wait…. that last one doesn’t seem to have happened yet. Dammit John Connor! Give me a heads up for once, I need to write reviews here!

So this is a once in a lifetime dram pour. I see it’s currently at auction for €400, which is what… 8 million CAD? Probably.

Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

Price: N/A in Ontario

Matured in an oak cask (wow, let’s not get too descriptive)

Distilled: 22.3.74

Bottled: 15.12.97

Cask No. 1042

Bottle No. 154 of 206

Region: Islay

Abv: 52.4%

Colour: 2.5YR 6/10

Nose: Rose, strawberry, cocoa, sea salt, peat, bakery, summer day at the pool

If I had to guess, I’d say this was sherry influence. However previous Signatories I’ve had have said that before, so it’s odd. Very odd.

Peat isn’t the initial thing, which isn’t a surprise for a 23 year old whisky. Peat goes away.

There’s also this wonderful chlorine note that I oddly enough have a memory from. Well, not oddly. It’d be odd if I grew up in Namibia and never saw a public pool before and then had a memory and hunted down my wife’s killer.

But that’s just silly. Of course I had swimming lessons.

Taste: Anise, strawberry, pepper, lemonade, mushroom, raisin, caramel, watery

To call the taste a let down is maybe too harsh. You have this intricate, interesting, and strong nose. And then a watery taste.

And it shouldn’t be watery at all. Yet it is. I can pick out subtle tastes, however it’s muted. Don’t know why.

Maybe the casks weren’t great?

Finish: Peat, brown butter, floral, gravel, BBQ sauce with blueberries in it

And then the finish makes up for it again. Not crazy, like other Ardbeg’s I’ve had. However strong, big fruit and smoke all the way through it. Back to teasing us like it’s a Lowland and then Crying Game right into an Islay.

And now you’re thinking about wang. You’re welcome.

Conclusion: I’ve had better 1970s Ardbegs. There. I said it. I sound like a motherfucker.

This is a good dram, don’t get me wrong. The taste just doesn’t help it’s case. And that’s the unfortunately part of the whole thing. I like the finish, and I love the nose. The taste is just… off somehow. Maybe oxidization, maybe bad casks, maybe just who I am.

End of the day, I’d still recommend someone try it to try it. It’s interesting and part of history, after all.

86/100

Scotch review #409, Islay review #82, Whisky Network review #630

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