Another year, another Ardbeg Day release!
Only this time it’s a special year for the distillery at the end of the Kildalton road – they’re celebrating their bicentenary. So just to confuse everybody, they released not one special bottling but two! I guess that’s one each for both centuries?
This one is the distillery-only version released for the Feis Ile. Oddly, they changed their mind and decided to put it on sale on their website, causing havoc as their servers went down under the heavy traffic.
They also did the anniversary edition, bottled at a slightly lower 47.4% ABV and to the tune of 72,000 bottles.
Both releases promise elements of classic Ardbegs throughout the ages, with old and young spirit and a nod to the future as well as the past.
But beyond all the marketing spiel, what’s it actually like…?
Nose: Big flakes of sea salt on pretzels with air-dried ham. Dusty sherry notes of ripe plums, backed by briny iodine. Thick, sticky molasses with Jamaican ginger cake and malt loaf. Chewed rubber-tipped pencils, with fireplace hints of dry wood ash and old coal dust.
Palate: Sweet iced coffee with lots of salt and pepper. Creamy sherry trifle. Glacé cherry, bananas, juicy sultanas with rich malt syrup. More briny iodine notes swirled into chocolate sauce.
Finish: Super long and dry with oily espresso foam, salty ashes and sticky liquorice. Creamy, buttery oak.
Absolutely delicious. It’s desserty but not over the top – a really excellent balance of salt, sweet and bitter. It definitely tastes old and dusty with classic elements of more mature Ardbegs, and vintages from days gone by. I love the sherry influence – not as knockout as Uigeadail, more restrained and subtle.
Top notch, this. Thanks so much to Ben Cops for the sample.
The distillery edition’s long sold out on the Ardbeg site, but you can still find it on other retail sites and in auctions. Just don’t pay £400 for it like some people have!