Oh, man, do I like this one. The last of four SMWS Ardbeg releases I stacked up head to head (to head to head) a couple weeks back. Not only is it the closest to the true spirit of Ardbeg – falling squarely into that phenolic and tarry/ashy sort of profile I love – it was unquestionably the best of the range.
I’ve shared enough words on the SMWS 33’s of late, so let’s keep this one short and sweet. Let me just say that releases like this are the very reason I have kept my SMWS membership up to date. It will be interesting to see if the club still has access to these young barrels of Ardbeg going forward, now that the brand is no longer owned by the good folks at LVMH. Sorta doubt it. As we know, indie Ardbegs are becoming more and more just relics of a bygone era.
Nose: Tar, ash and soot. Menthol. Very nasal-clearing. Leather. Lime. Seared scallops. The notes on the label suggest tomatoes, and I completely agree. BBQ sauce and grilled meat. Some dry smoke.
Palate: Fiery, savoury arrival. Very juicy though. More vinegar-y BBQ notes. Mint candy. Like a mouthful of smoke. Black ju-jubes. Definite notes of grilled seafood. Lime. Black coffee. Fennel that grows bigger and bigger at the back end. Slightly herbal. Loooooooong finish.
Thoughts: Quite in line with what Ardbeg tends to release nowadays. And quite in the strike zone. I like this one a lot. Still a little rough around the edges, but that’s part of its charm. Much like we love the Hanson Brothers for their scrappiness.
– Images & Words: Curt