I wanted to love this. I really did. As soon as they announced this year’s Ardbeg Day release was going to be rum cask-matured I immediately went into mental damage control. It’s okay. Relax. It might still be good. You don’t much like wine casks, but Grooves was good, right? Rum, though? Really? And that name. I’ve mentioned the concept of jumping the shark before, and maybe this is finally it.
A few years ago, Diageo’s Nick Morgan made some ridiculous comment that fired up the cognoscenti. He was coming out in defense of NAS whiskies (or if you can read between the lines: being the human shield for the fatcats at Diageo HQ) and said something along the lines of running out of numbers for age statements. Silly, of course, but I’m hoping that the idea of ‘running out of’ anything is maybe a little more applicable on the NAS side of things. Especially as relates to Ardbeg, one of my most beloved of distilleries. Maybe they’ll run out of silly concepts, and go back to numbers. Can you imagine the buzz for a proper age-stated range of Ardbeg? I mean, a regular core range of 10, 17, 21 and 25 or something? That I could get behind.
Drum…well…not so much.
Is it bad? No. Not actively. Is it good? Meh. S’okay. Not much more. I find it oddly thin and lacking the swagger that Ardbeg usually has in spades. Anyway…
Nose: Very young-ish. Smoky as hell, but…lacking the expected…I dunno…Ardbeg-iness? Licorice. Bicycle tires. Overripe banana. Caremalized pineapple sugars. Banana cream pie. A little Coke with lime. A bit of eucalyptus chest rub. Smells kinda like someone polished up a pair of Wellies. In all…meh. Underripe and out of balance.
Palate: Again…missing that Ardbeg character. Hot, youthful and spirity. Black wine gums. Sweet barley sugar notes. Sensens. More rummy rubber tones. Lemon. Plastic. Brackish water. Not bad; just not exciting either. It’s almost hard to find the real Ardbeg in there.
Finish: Long, as with all Ardbeg, but yet still somehow thin. Like a longheld reedy note in a symphony when you’re expected a tuba. Leaves behind fruit skins, licorice, toothpicks and a little bit of that plastic character.
Thoughts: You lost me on this one, Ardbeg. For the first time in memory, I’ve not bought bottles for myself. Can we please just have a regularly available, fairly priced 17 year old again? Please?
79/100 (and that might be being a tad generous, if I’m being honest.)