An Evening With The Collective Running Through A Vertical Of Ardbeg
It’s a rare thing that I am at a loss for words. In fact, I’m sure a few people who know me would like it to be a slightly more frequent occurrence. Like most passionate (Insane? Obsessive?) souls I have very strong opinions. I find that the more passionate the individual, the more they think people should listen to them. Having said that…I searched hard to find something to say about this tasting that I thought anyone would care to listen to.
This gathering happened months back, and I have been sitting on these tasting notes ever since. I simply could not come up with an angle for this one. There was the inevitable ‘attack the prophet’ (he who writes the bible) spin…the ‘fellate all things in the green bottle’ tack (can’t hide bias here…I love Ardbeg)…the ‘bog beast’ approach…etc etc.
In the end though, I concede and have settled for…
A few of us got together to taste some Ardbeg. We came…we drank…we were conquered. It was simply bigger than all of our might combined.
The notes below are, as usual when we do these group tastings, cobbled together from the collective wisdom of the crew. Some poetic. Some insightful. Some just crude and crass. This refers to both the gang gathered and the jottings below.
With no further ado…Ardbeg.
Nose: Big lemon and lime. Anise. Salty and mildly peppery. Slightly spirity (new-make-ish). Pepper skins. Stewing tomatoes and malt. Distant campfire. Vanilla.
Palate: Thin and fairly weak…for an Ardbeg anyway. Black licorice. Zero finish. Decent mid-note.
Thoughts & Comments: Light and refreshing. By no means a bad whisky, it was the least favorite of the night. Watered down for an Ardbeg. Truly the lightweight from this distillery full of heavyweights.
Nose: Herbal. Light vanilla. Red rock candy (strawberry? Cherry?). Aged wood shavings. Strawberry marshmallow. Mild smoke. Grassy. Cream soda. Bread. Amaretto. Grenadine/maraschino.
Palate: Char. Tangy. Fairly light with a short finish.
Thoughts & Comments: Delicate, sweet and mature. Muted phenols. Again…atypical of Ardbeg’s usual bombast, but still lovely.
Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist
Nose: Vanilla ice cream. Toasted marshmallow. Salt and iodine. Licorice. Beachside campfire. Mild caramel. Citrus and tar. Lemon sweets. Sherry tannins.
Palate: Sweet and creamy. Peat and brine.
Thoughts & Comments: Needs a little time to properly open. “Great punctuation.” Sadly missed. If you come across this one gathering dust in some shop somewhere…snap it up.
Nose: Big deep smoke. Creosote. Citrus and brine. Seaweed. Capers. Vanilla. Tar. Anise. Wet bandaid.
Palate: Bit of a bite. Smoke, ash and licorice on delivery. Peat. Long, strong finish. Prosciutto (?)
Thoughts & Comments: For such a great dram…a fairly weak showing in a lineup this strong. Aggressive. “Rubber hits the road”. “Lots of kissing, but no closure”.
Nose: Fruit with cream. Bordering on tropical. Melon…maybe peach. Chocolate. Vanilla. Distant echoes of peat. Grains are noticeable. Slight paint or rubber latex note. Cadbury’s chocolate oranges. Butterscotch. Aged and balanced smoke. Sherry oranges.
Palate: Bright. Great mouthfeel. Fruit and mild peat. Lingering and ‘yummy’.
Thoughts & Comments: …Oh man, the fruits. Bloody spectacular. Far and away the favorite of all. ABV does it justice. “Not of this earth.” “No words are good enough.”
Nose: Grainy. Smoke and sea brine. Peat. Zest. Smoked fish. Cookfire. BBQ sauce. Anise. Approachable.
Palate: Big arrival. Peppery.
Thoughts & Comments: Good bourbon/sherry balance. Needs some sushi on the side. “Taste is better than the nose.” (but of course the nose is to die for too). “Like mating with a wrestler…Chyna perhaps.”
Nose: Leather and smoke. Chocolate. Smoked meat in BBQ sauce. Figgy. Orange and cherry. Sweet creamy caramel. Salt and iodine. Tea. Pungent and a little medicinal…yet creamy. Whisper of sherry.
Palate: Hint of black cherry on delivery. Salty and sweet.
Thoughts & Comments: Good food whisky.
Nose: Soot and ash. Chilis. Very salty. Vinegary BBQ sauce. Vanilla bean. Pepper (refined…Talisker-ish). Licorice. Orange and cherry. Spearmint.
Palate: Orange. Chocolate. Salty. Peaty finish. Campfire. Long and chewy.
Thoughts & Comments: Assertive, but yielding. Lots of depth and volume. Cold weather dram. Another that would be well-paired with food.
Ardbeg Supernova SN2010
Nose: Chocolate, Sharp and citric. Smoky and peaty. Young and biting. BBQ. Iodine. Hockey card bubblegum. Fresh and minty. Lemongrass. Ash and coal tar.
Palate: Liquid smoke. Numbing. Chunky and intense.
Thoughts & Comments: Taste is the dividing line (nose belies the strength here). “Like licking a homeless guy.” “My teeth are melting”.
Apologies to those of The Collective who so generously gave their time for this on, only to have me dally on getting the piece posted.
Quality varies, at least with the 10. The 10 can be great (93+) or only very good (86). There is a significant variation between bottlings. Do they occasionally throw in some ’70’s to throw the reviewers off? No matter! If you find an L11 195 marking on your Ardbeg 10 bottle, contact me immediately! Your life may be in danger, as this is the “best damn whisky” (kudos to Whisky Bitch) I have tasted. Isolate yourself from the bottle and send to me immediately!!!