Ardbeg Galileo Review

Ardbeg Galileo

49% abv

Score:  88/100


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

5 thoughts on “Ardbeg Galileo Review

  1. Robert

    Glad to see your review. Definitely an odd whisky. I had another dram tonight to see if it had improved, so your take on it is timely. The nose still immediately brings Laphroaig to mind for some reason, but is pleasant. And chewing it I get a very sweet Ardbeggish sense. It is in the palate-to-finish transition that things get weird. it a sweet Ardbeg for about one to two seconds and then, BAM!, I get a sudden drying port-like blast which is the really weird part. This then continues for a moderate length. It seems either to have mellowed some with air exposure, or I’m just getting used to it. Not bad, just really strange. With time I might even look forward to it, as I don’t know of another like it. However, I can currently only give it 86.

  2. Robert

    Okay! It’s been another month, so I have a dram of Ardbeg 10 and then decide to reach into the back of the cabinet and grab the Galileo for another go. Wow! Its taken two + months, but it is now quite good! The weird port blast is gone and it has somewhat smoothed out into a very good Ardbeg. I intend to get in my car right now (okay, I’ll finish my drink first) and see if I can find another bottle (or two). This is a huge surprise! Up to 88+ from an 86.

    1. Jeff

      I found the same with both the 10 and Uigeadail, that I liked them far more with time and bottle space than I did off the cork. Then again, could the dram of Ardbeg 10 have acclimatized you, so the Galileo tasted better? Is the Galileo still better “starting cold”? Be sure to leave a note when you try the Triumph. Sláinte!

      1. Robert

        Ah, you are so wise! I thought the same and tried it the next evening first. Not as good, but still noticeably better than a month ago. To me it’s okay if I need a dram of 10 prior, as long as the Galileo tastes that good again. I like three dram sequences of different scotches, as it often improves the experience

        1. Jeff

          I’ve thought the same about Ledaig 10 – if I started with a dram of Ardbeg 10 and switched to Ledaig, I might well not know the difference – on a good day the two profiles are that close, though “cold” the Ledaig is a little sharper, Arranesque (can I get a ruling on that word?) and maybe a little more lemony. Sláinte, Robert!


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