Ardbeg really takes a drubbing these days. Seems to be everyone’s favorite whipping boy. Now, I can hear the collective groans out there and know the immediate reaction will be something akin to ‘awwww…poor Ardbeg…fleecing us with NAS expressions and making a fortune once or twice a year with so-called limited releases’. The sentiment seems to be along the lines of feeling sorry for the Kardashians for not having any privacy.
Here’s the thing: I hate – as much as, or more than, most whisky lovers – this constant barrage of shitty NAS malts that are flooding the market, but the simple fact of the matter is that Ardbeg consistently releases bloody great expressions. Even those that don’t take the highest place on the platform are still miles better than most new whiskies hitting the shelves. Additionally, the prices, while frustrating over the past few years, are suddenly not far out of line with most other new releases. Not that that is justification, mind, but it is acknowledging that in this case at least the devil we know is consistent in terms of quality, while the others are suspect (at best).
The cynics out there will lambaste me for this one. So be it. I’m practically past the point of giving a f*ck. Anything positive I say about NAS expressions is seen as treasonous to the campaign against this initiative. I get it. Unfortunately my own morality when it comes to being honest supercedes any sort of agenda. Bloggers are constantly under scrutiny regarding their morality. I’d like to think I still have mine in tact. So let’s say it here and now, in hopes of deflecting some of the questions that will inevitably come afterwards:
This is an appeal to the folks at LVMH/Ardbeg:
Please start putting age statements on these expressions.
It is known and accepted that Ardbeg is generally served up fairly young.
That’s why we like it. Peat works well in youth.
Wear that number proudly.
I’ll buy. We’ll buy.
There. PSA over. Let’s get on with it.
Seems I may have liked this one more than some reviewers out there. Granted while I have been fortunate enough to try it a few times through others and at tasting events and festivals, and was given a sample not long ago, I do not have a bottle kicking around to work through and note the evolution over time.
Perpetuum was released in 2015 to commemorate the distillery’s 200th anniversary. I think most of us had our fingers crossed for a relaunch of the 17 to mark this special occasion (and unbelievable milestone!), but alas…it wasn’t meant to be (yet?). We do know that Ardbeg is now able to warehouse more than they are releasing, so hopefully team green is building up to some sort of healthy surplus of mature malt. Time will tell, I suppose, but my fingers remain crossed for a more advanced age-stated addition to the core range. At the time of writing, word has trickled down of a new Ardbeg 21 on the horizon. I can only imagine the cost and limited availability.
Perpetuum. Infinity. Or perpetuity, to be a little more precise. Gotta hand it to the marketing team here. There is always a clever spin at play. My own slightly more cynical point of view falls a little closer to Sage Serge’s thoughts, though, if I’m to be honest. But let’s let the whisky speak for itself.
BTW…I cannae recall the ages of malts that went into this vatting, but I think it was a marriage of 7 to 13 year old Ardbeg.
And did I mention how much I detest this being yet another NAS expression from Ardbeg?
Nose: Soft candied fruits. Lime. Ash and smoke. Soft doughy notes, indicative of a bit of aged malt in the mix. A little bit of pear and a little bit of lime. Maybe green melon. Vanilla softens things here. Still sooty, charry and all that. Y’know…Ardbeggian. But muted.
Palate: Now some licorice. Smoke. Earthy peat, but also very approachable for a dram from Islay’s heaviest of heavyweights. Wet charred wood. Salty and tingly. I love how soft and hard this is at the same time. A yin and yang malt for certain. Green apple skins. Citrus, of course. Charred scallop.
Thoughts: Ardbeg back on top. Nice to see some decently mature spirit in the mix softening things up.
– Images & Words: Curt