Well now…this is a zippy little lad. If you’ve read many of these short reviews on ATW, I would imagine you know by now that I have a soft spot for young peaty whiskies, and a less than clandestine appreciation for most things Ardbeg. So here’s the deal…most Ardbeg is produced in the same manner. The differences in expressions tend to be from different bottling ages, or possibly different woods. When the root of the spirit (or ‘new-make’) remains constant, and is exceptional, the derivatives are bound to be of a fairly uniform high quality as well.
Sigh. Unfortunately I occasionally feel like I have to justify my Ardbeg adoration. This will be the last time. Hey…they make bloody good whisky. Why shouldn’t I say so?
So, where does that leave us in terms of the Ardbeg Still Young? This is the second bottle (of four) in the ‘Path To Peaty Maturity’ series, so what can logically be expected is an abrasive young whisky which has not had all of its sharp corners knocked off yet by mellowing in wood. It is a cheeky young barroom brawler, flipping its kilt up, and rolling with the punches. At 56.2% abv, it is Ardbeg as Ardbeg is meant to be seen.
The nose is enormously Islay. Buckets of sea water, iodine and smoke. Extremely medicinal. It is fruity, with the grains hidden deep…very deep…in the background, and wave after wave of smoke blocking most individual notes anyway. You truly don’t think that’s a bad thing, do you?
The palate delivers some mouthwatering fruit, primarily green apple and lemon rind. More salt and…have I mentioned smoke? The sheer blunt force delivery of heat and alcohol carry the finish on for infinite amounts of time. In all honesty I’m not sure what could possibly wipe these flavors off the tongue. Still Young loses a mark or two for overall balance though, as there’s something slightly ‘off’ in the latter stages of development. Can’t quite put my finger on what note it is I’m having trouble with here.
Strong showing for a young Ardbeg nevertheless. If you can find it…grab one.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt