Earlier this year Ardbeg Drum shook my faith in the Great Big Green. It was…less than stellar in this cat’s humble opinion. Bad? No. Of course not. Good? Meh. Not even quite. But Drum is now in the rearview mirror. We’re now on the eve of the proper arrival of Traigh Bhan here in Canadian waters. Traigh Bhan – named for a local beach, and translated as ‘the Singing Sands’ – is what we’ve been waiting for: proper age-stated Ardbeg. And not just age-stated, but what an age! Traigh Bhan is a meant to be a permanent addition to the core range, albeit in batch releases that will vary year upon year. The price? Well…let’s leave that aside for a few moments and just revel in the fact that this iconic much-loved distillery has finally reached a point – post-renaissance – that they are able to release a regular release at a brilliant state of maturity. Apex Ardbeg. Not much more to say really.
Consider me on record here and now saying that this is spectacular. And I can’t lie…it’s nice to be able to ‘fanboy’ it up a bit again for my beloved Ardbeg.
46.2% abv. An utterly perfect drinking strength. Matured in ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry.
Nose: Oh. Oh, boy. We’re tiptoeing up to the line where we cross over into tropical territory. Especially with those grilled pineapple notes. Lime. Orange. A faint hint of cherry. Black wine gums. Lemon pound cake. Kumquat. The smoke is quite subdued, and there’s little in the way of real earthy peat. Vanilla cupcakes. Caramel sauce on pineapple (again with the pineapple!). The five flavor Lifesaver packages. Eucalyptus. Toasted marshmallow. Ginger. Complex and perfectly integrated.
Palate: Quite soft for an Ardbeg (mind you…we are at nearly two decades here). Mid level smoke profile. Licorice. Oily vanilla seed. Mocha. Orange and citrus. And here we go: there’s the pineapple again. Greengage. Smoked sausage. Ginger and white pepper. Clean wood. Nice harmony between nose and palate.
Finish: Long and perfect. Lime zest. Vanilla ice cream popsicles. Faint green fruit skins at the end (green apples and green grapes).
Thoughts: Ardbeg back at the top of their game. I adore this release. Can’t wait to drink more of it. Much more.
And yes…I will update the photo when I get my hands on a bottle proper.