Ardbeg 17 yo 1979/1996 (64.3%, Adelphi for USA, cask #11928, 258 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: a hospital and that’s it. Litres of antiseptic. Extremely aggressive (but one can ‘feel’ this is great), let’s try to tame it using water. With water: woooh! One of the most extreme Ardbegs I could ever try – and I tried a few. The heavy notes of antiseptic are still there, mingling with fabulous notes of old pu-erh tea, tar, benzine, tasty oysters (I mean, not overly refined ones) and gunflints. Also whiffs of old copper coins. A version that’s true to Ardbeg as it should be. Mouth (neat): wow, it’s almost drinkable! Almost as lemony as the 1990, but there are many other flavours it seems and, above all, a lot of salt. Amazing! With water: wait, let’s add more water. This is so big! Good, you really have to bring this one down to roughly 45% vol. or it’ll just burn your throat. But then it gets truly magnificent, certainly as good as the most legendary Ardbegs. Fantastic saltiness, exceptional resinous notes, beautiful ‘coastalness’ (wot?), fabulous fruits (lemon and green apples first as usual)… Finish: as long as G.W. Bush’s late apologies. This Arbdeg’s balance is more than perfect. Comments: absolute top notch, ‘takes no prisonners’. Why can’t all whiskies be like this? (go to bed, Serge). SGP:568 - 93 points.