9.5 // 9
Sharp on the first whiff, soft and sweet on the second, both laced with delicate smoke. Structured and balanced.
Time (45 minutes) in the glass and an intervening Ardbeg leads to an entirely new, potent battery of scents. Orange peel and oaked vanilla scream from the glass to form a sort of Orange Julius on fire. Fruity and sweet in the forefront, forest fire somewhere far away.
7.5 // 8.5
Super light flavor verging on bitter. Is it too old? Ashy and oaky, but after a while, as it coats the tongue like varnish, more sweet (apple? no, pear) flavor emerges. This invokes what Ardbeg 10 might taste like if turned into a Yankee Candle and consumed.
Oh, my. That's much better with a scant splash of water. The bitter tannins fade completely, leaving you with a lush, much sweeter, creamier drink. You might be lulled into complacency when BLAMMO there's burnt log flakes in your mouth to remind you of Islay. Less well-integrated, but I now feel a lot better paying what I did for this.
8.5 // 7.5
Very solid, long, ash smooth finish that both absorbs and stimulates salivation. // Fine.