In my old rating system (ten scales that translate into WB points: 50 - 66 - 75 - 80 - 82,5 - 85 - 87,5 - 90 - 92,5 - 95) I scored it 95+. I took no detailed notes.
[April, 2019] Together with friends I emptied another bottle that I bought for 135 Euro in April, 2002. Finally, I can do a proper review now.
And this is flabbergasting stuff, indeed! One of the most complex and quaffable Ardbegs I ever tasted, deadly dangerously quaffable to be precise. I could empty such a bottle in one go alone. But is this fun? No, it is much better to share it with good friends like tonight...
The colour is deep gold and the nose offers the early seventies Ardbeg complexity at its best. This is a peaty bonfire in-between an old byre and a freshly tarred road. Later a full load of hospital-alike aromas join in while the maritime notes take their time until they show up. This is the utmost complexity of flavours I can think of, there are additional autumn floral, oily, leathery and and and ... aromas. What an experience!
The taste is multi-layered and challenging to explore because every layer is quite complex in itself. There is a hide-and-seek of sweet, peaty and spicy-herbal flavours that is funny to follow but hard to catch. It is pure pleasure to chew and explore, but it is even more joyful to simply quaff this dram without "analysis paralysis". Water releases even more aromas in the nose and flavours on the palate - actually, I like this dram both neat and somewhat reduced.
The initial mouthfeel is impressive and bold with a warming and creamy coating effect and a minor drying moment from the heavy peating level (cold ashes). The finish is virtually endless and gets sweeter on molten sugars and citric fruits which is very delicious. Towards the end the peat creates some drying moments again but these are not distracting at all.