“One dram to rule them all, One dram to find them,
One dram to bring them all and in the drunkness bind them”
The ‘one dram’ here…a thing of legend now. Apparently at one point this beautiful old Ardbeg actually sold for a decent price. Nowadays, a combination of the distillery’s cult status and the machinations of unscrupulous collectors manipulating the secondary markets have driven this one well beyond the budget constraints of most of us punters out there. Getting your hands on a bottle of this ‘precious’ will likely cost you either a second mortgage or a divorce.
Such is the nature of the beast, unfortunately.
Lord Of The Isles was launched in 2001, and was released in small numbers through 2007. Depending on when you bought, the whisky in the bottle could range between 25 and 30 years old and contain Ardbeg from 1974, 1975 and possibly 1976. Older Ardbeg, particularly those between ’74 and ’77 are held in extremely elevated esteem. Rightfully so, though that is of little comfort to those of us who want to drink the stuff yet can ill afford current market value. If you can somehow get your hands on it…do not hesitate. The Lord Of The Isles is quite possibly the second best Ardbeg I’ve yet tasted (behind the glorious 1977).
The whisky is mild by today’s Ardbeg standards. Recent releases have been an assault on the senses…blindingly strong…immensely flavored…and nostril burning (and that’s why we love ’em!), but the Lord Of The Isles is much more akin to the lighter fare like Kildalton, 17 or Airigh Nam Beist. Assuming, of course, those lovely drams were allowed a slightly longer period of maturation. Don’t expect a featherweight, a la Ardbeg Blasda, however. This is still a fairly smoky and tarry dram.
A final note…love the packaging. The box was apparently inspired by the Monymusk Reliquary, an 8th century Scottish reliquary (ummm…simply put…a container to hold relics), quite possibly designed and built by Ionan monks off the West coast of Scotland in the Hebrides. Cool stuff.
Nose: Very soft fruits and a wonderful ‘old cask/latex’ note. Soft sweet candy. Vanilla and a touch of chocolate. Scone. Very mild on the peats you’d expect in an Ardbeg. Quite organic (if that makes sense) in carrying some earthy notes like teas, grass and herbals.
Palate: All that typifies Ardbeg (and was absent on the nose) puts in an appearance now. Peat. Smoke. Tarry…sooty..ashy. Some citrus. Still very subdued and sophisticated. Brilliant dram.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt