Whoo hoo, I'm the one thousandth reviewer of the Ardbeg Ten, what do i win? ………….Bah
I've always enjoyed Ardbeg whisky but i don't mind admitting that i give Ardbeg a hard time. I naturally support the underdog, maybe its because I'm british, who knows? - I'm not a sociologist, actually thats not true but thats another story. To me Ardbeg, like Macallan is like Manchester United of the Whisky world, with fans all over the globe waving the Ardbeg committee flag with an insatiable appetite for its success, and i reckon its big enough to handle some scrutiny from little me. So its a great testament to the distillery that i find myself trying to be disappointed with Ardbeg and continually failing. Visiting the Ardbeg distillery for example was a highlight of my Islay tour. I arrrived for a standard 'range' tasting at the distillery one afternoon with very little expectation - to be told that they cancelled the tour because i was the only one who turned up. A combination of guilt on their part and persuasion [or charm as i like to believe] on my part, resulted in me receiving a personalised and bespoke tour which led to trying some 70's specials from the managers desk draw.
I was impressed with what i tried. The least i could do was buy an Ardbeg 10 as I hadn't had one in a while. The week i opened the bottle i'd sampled some superb drams - some Port Ellen's, 70's Bunna's, vintage Glendronach's and some rare bourbons… so i was still not in the mood to entertain the 'Ten'. The bottle had gone down half way before i realised that i was liking, no - loving this whisky. It was performing better every day, opening out and revealing more and more. Below are my ongoing tasting notes for the impressive standard Ardbeg release:
N: Creamy, cheesy, salty, oily, fruity, peat. Kumquats, raisins, cherries, honey on light toast. Vanillas, incense, seaweed, wood sap, soap, lemon drizzle cake, dried apricots, peaches, ripe pineapples. The peat comes in and out in waves. Later becoming yeasty and meaty in the glass.
T: Smoke, peat, pepper with a hin and oily in body then some dark rich fruits, fermented quince jam with more smoke and peat coming through building up in layers. Tarred beach wood. Later toffee comes through, rosemary, aniseed…. Later, the arrival is much more buttery with a thicker honeyed salivating body. The smoke is ever present.
F: Salty and bitter/sweet, peppery and rather drying. A salivating burst of medicinal cherry cough sweets flow through with a touch of iodine freshness and darjeeling tea to compliment the encompassing charcoal smoke.
C: Love it or loath it, this is a very fine whisky. Personally i'm loving it.
Scores a B+