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+