Ardbeg 26 yo 1993/2020 (53.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 240 bottles) Five stars
Love it that Cadenhead would have used the relatively low-key Authentic Collection livery here, that’s so smart! Now, not all 1993s have been otherworldly in my book – after all, didn’t owners Allied only let the distillery run for a few weeks every year at that time, under in-house rivals Laphroaig’s supervision? Colour: straw. Nose: much, much, and I mean much lighter in style than the 1975, much more ‘purified’, fruitier, with even traces of rum here and there, and pineapples… Having said that, seawater tends to come to the front, and make this much more coastal, if not tarry. With water: gets drier, muddier (good news), with notes of stable and burning hay. Mouth (neat): hold on, this is really great too, just different! Sharper, more a razorblade than a bowl of pitch as was the 1975 if you like, more mineral and grassy, certainly peatier (as far as pure peat goes), and more on roots, celeriac… I’m most pleased with this baby, it was a hard task to come after the ultra-classic 1975. With water: absolutely lovely, and now surprisingly close to the 1975, just a little less fat and ‘typical’. Salt, bitter herbs, chalk, kippers, fresh walnuts, and this wonderful manzanilla-y feel that I’ll always crave. Finish: long, with traces of custard beyond the sharp, almost biting herbal bitterness. Always enjoy that too. Only the aftertaste is a tad less precise, but we’re splitting hairs again. Comments: no need.
SGP:467 - 91 points.