Ardbeg Day 2013 “Ardbog”

Distillery: Ardbeg
Bottled: 2013
Age: NAS
ABV: 52.1%
Cask: Ex-bourbon & Manzanilla sherry
More Info: WhiskyBase

Another year, another Ardbeg Day release!

This is an older example from back in 2013 and is a salute to the peaty marshlands on Islay. The thing about this bottling that piques my interest is the Manzanilla cask finish. Ardbeg whisky is no stranger to a sherry cask, but almost always of the PX/Oloroso end of the spectrum.

Manzanilla is a much lighter style of sherry, more savoury and even (I think) a little bit salty. Consumed cold, it’s a thirst quencher on a hot day in the same way a cold pint is.

So how will a coastal pale sherry marry with a coastal peated whisky? Let’s find out.

Nose: Sweet blackberries, coal dust, leather and dry leaves. A coastal breeze with a touch of bread dough and marzipan.

Palate: Red fruits: cranberries, redcurrants, raspberries; giving way to a whoosh of coal dust and wood smoke, then followed by salty caramel and peppery oak.

Finish: Quite dry and ashy with dark chocolate and vanilla oak.

I’ve been a fan of this ever since I first tried it. Oddly, in the smoking lounge at the Four Seasons in Hamburg over a cigar (as you do, like).

It has a lot of the hallmarks of Uigeadail but the fruitiness of the sherry is balanced out with a good spectrum of savoury flavours, becoming dry and lip-smacking on the finish. There’s even a touch of yeastiness, which I’d associate with a pale sherry, so that tallies with the cask choice.

Overall, this is bloody lovely. A less sweet Uigeadail with tons of depth and a lovely dry finish. Delicioso!

You can still pick this up on the secondary market for about £140+

Ardbeg Supernova 2019 Committee Release

Distillery: Ardbeg
Bottled: 2019
Age: NAS
ABV: 53.8%
Cask: Ex-bourbon
More Info: WhiskyBase

Another space whisky has landed! Ardbeg’s 5th edition of Supernova promises to be “an abduction of the senses”. Where are Mulder and Scully when you need them?

I’m generally a big Ardbeg fan. Their whiskies have this great oily quality to them – sometimes mechanical, sometimes more like chocolate syrup or thick black coffee. There’s smoke too, granted, but it’s not the peat-smoke that conjures up muddy bogs or TCP – it’s more a faint backdrop of smoky logs on which other flavours can build.

Let’s put it in the glass!

Nose: Very coastal and briny with dark bonfire toffee, coal dust, fresh mineral oil. A touch of cocoa powder and acrylic paint.

Palate: Seriously thick and oily. Smoked caramel with cardamom pods and seaweed, becoming ashy and peppery.

Finish: Lip-smacking and long. That coastal oiliness just keeps going.

This is the best Ardbeg I’ve had in years! It’s intensely coastal but also well-balanced with sweet, briny, smoky flavours working in harmony.

Arbdeg’s NAS releases can divide opinion, particularly with odd cask choices and bordering-on-ridiculous marketing. This release is a showcase of what the distillery can do so well: a powerful mix of coastal notes and peat but with a great depth and complexity that draws you in and effortlessly puts a smile on your face.

My bottle is disappearing fast and I shall be very sad to see it go.

This went on sale on the Ardbeg site at £140 and is available on other online shops for £200+.