Methinks Ardbeg is having almost as much fun in their marketing department as Bruichladdich is. Galileo? Really? Based on an ‘experiment’ in which a bit of Ardbeg was sent up in space to see what effect zero gravity might have on the maturation process. Hmmmm. Throw in a wicked retro label and packaging and…voila! Collectibility…sky-high (pun intended) pricing…and word of mouth like a wildfire. Ok, so maybe the pricing isn’t that bad here. This is, after all, the first new Ardbeg in a few years to actually carry either an age statement or a distillation year on it. 1999, to be precise, which would in effect make this a 13 year old? Ish?
Anyway…marketing aside, the innovation doesn’t end there for the Galileo. This is apparently a mix of first and second fill ex-bourbon casks smushed together with some Ardbeg spirit aged in ex-Marsala casks (Marsala being a fortified Sicilian wine). Ardbeg in wine, huh? Odd.
Nose: Sweet and creamy and more dessert-like than recent Ardbeg releases. Notes of chocolate and burnt marshmallow. Tart fruit; like maybe pomegranate seeds and crab apple. Chilis and iodine. Hot chocolate with marshmallow. Grapes that are initially none too aggressive, grow bigger and bigger as this one opens up a bit. Almost faint at first, but developing like something in the rear view mirror moving ever closer. Some peat and smoke o’ course.
The palate…not even close to the suggestions of the nose. Much sharper, really. Wet, sloppy, juicy delivery that quickly contracts and puckers into sour grape skins and slightly bitters. Licorice. A touch too heavy on the wine influence, I think.
After a few sips, my mate referred to this one as both ‘a dirty drink’ and ‘an oddball…one off’. Yes and no. Dirty? Sure. I get that. An oddball? Get that too. The reason I say ‘nae’ here as well is because this one really isn’t that much of a stretch for Ardbeg. Just a few quirky steps off the beaten path. You WILL find familiarity here.
Final concession: Recognition for odd innovation on the part of the distillers, and acknowledgement of being a tad underwhelmed with this one due to my own possibly inflated expectations, mean perhaps this should really score an extra point, but ultimately I’ll refrain.
BTW…Notice a lot of question marks in this review? Exactly.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt