I’m not gonna lie. I’m quite a fan of peaty and smokey whiskies. It was a Lagavulin 16 that made me realise how truly amazing whisky could be, and since then I can’t stop myself from buying strong peaty goodness (as you can imagine, I was in my element on my recent trip to Islay). So when Day 8 of this journey revealed an 18yo cask strength Ardbeg, I was pretty happy. Having visited Ardbeg recently, I had been able to try a few of their older expressions, but this bottling from Master of Malt had evaded me when it was released (at a very good price) a few years ago. The sample was given to me by Danny Williamson (@Dramstats) of the blog Dramstats – You don’t see him around Twitter that much anymore, but he was generous enough to send me this sample out of the blue.
Ardbeg 18yo (bottled by Master of Malt) (56.3%)
N: Part of me wants to say that this is a classic Ardbeg-y nose, but I think I would be lying. I get lots of lemon citrus and fruit, all on a bed of creamy butter and light wood smoke. The gentle warming peat evolves in the glass, but is a component rather a clear leader. Fruitiest Ardbeg I’ve had with pears, melons and green grapes. Some chocolate orange, chilli and earthy notes too. Not half as medicinal as i expected, but water brings out smoke and tropical fruit…even a slight meaty aspect.
P: Great delivery. Peat arrives head on, showing its involvement. Peppery, salty, maritime style. Not masses of smoke, but it’s definitely there enveloped by a warming sweetness on the tongue. Quite oily and ashy with a slight bitter grapefruit note. Oatcakes, tinned pineapples, & the sherry appears at the end with some dark fruits. Gorgeous stuff.
F: Long, ashy, fresh, dry and sweet. The layer of smoke sits on the tongue coupled well with a slight citrus bitterness. Ashen and lingering with a cigar like aftertaste.
Comments: Brilliantly ashy, robust yet vibrant Ardbeg which has been nicely aged. I wish all new releases of Ardbeg had this kind of quality. I simply enjoyed drinking this and wish I had a bottle (or four). The spirit worked well with the cask over the 18 years and the marriage with the refill sherry was really successful. Similarities to the Uigeadail. 91.
Thanks to Danny for this cracking Dram