Review from Serge:
Ardbeg ‘Dark cove’ (55%, OB, Committee release, 2016)The label tells us that ‘its heart has been matured in dark sherry casks’. Which doesn’t mean much, really, or only that a part of it was matured (proportions? for how long?) in sherry that probably wasn’t fino or manzanilla. It’s also said, on the label, that it’s the darkest Ardbeg ever. Highly unlikely if you ask me, given the various fantastic dark-oloroso-ed Ardbegs the owners have had in the past. So, the label being partly wrong, doesn’t that make this wee bottle kind of collectable? Despite the fact that it’s yet another NAS? Ach… Colour: gold. Nothing dark, really, we’ve known hundreds of Ardbegs that were darker, both officials and indies.Nose: hold on, cancel any derision or affectionate mockeries, there’s something clearly ‘old Ardbeg’ to this. Really. This very particular creosote-y thing, these soy-saucy touches, this fattish, tar-like medicinal side that’s so different from Laphroaig’s, this natural rubber diluted in brine, the turpentine, the walnuts (the sherry)… Plus, above all, very little of the dullish new-oakiness that’s polluting so many modern malts. Perhaps a little caraway, ginger, and juniper, but that’s all. So far, so perfect. With water: some kind of salted lapsang souchong into which you would have thrown cloves. Mouth (neat): phew, there was a little ‘obvious’ oak in the beginning of the arrival (varnish plus ginger and caraway), and I may like the nose better, but this is frankly very fine, appropriately thickish, cough-syrupy (oh my), with some acidic lemon as well, some smoked ham, perhaps a wee bit of bresaola to please our Italian friends, some salt, and some bitter oranges. Salty soy sauce with some tar liqueur. With water: it takes water well, becoming even peatier, even if more oils from the wood tend to come out as well. A tannicity. Finish: extremely long, and spicier. More cloves, ginger, cumin… Comments: it’s maybe more the oak than the wine that’s been playing the largest part here. I find this Dark cove more to my liking than last year’s… ach, what was the name again? - but I do prefer Uigeadail in this ‘direction’. But it’s excellent indeed. SGP:468 - 88 points.