The Ardbeg An Oa is the newest release in the core range of Ardbeg, launched in September 2017. It is named after the Mull of Oa, where you can find the American Monument (if you’ve been to Islay, you know what I mean, if not: Google is your friend). The difference with the classic Ten is significant and I do not just mean the lack of age. This one matured on a combination of 7 cask types, including virgin oak, PX sherry and 1st fill bourbon casks. Oh, the ABV is odd: 46.6%. I tried it for the first time in the Old Kiln Café at the Ardbeg distillery, but saw that no actual notes were made then. Time to rectify.
The nose is surprisingly fresh and playful for an Ardbeg, with lots of vanilla and lime, ginger and cinnamon. Fanta Lemon with some mint, fresh seaweeds and some polished leather. Some smoked mussels and diesel oil. And smoke, obviously. I think it’s quite light (for an Ardbeg, mind you), but just fine all the same.
The spices come first, on the palate (ginger, pepper, cardamom) – that must be the virgin oak. It is followed by black tea, sweet lemons and pink grapefruit with a hint of brown sugar. Peat, of course, but also lots of brackish water.
In the finish – quite long – everything has to get out of the way for lemons and peppers.
Spicier, but less round than the Ten, but still Ardbeg all the way. Probably young, but it doesn’t bother. Just under 60 EUR.