The new Ardbeg in the standard range is surprisingly one with an age statement. And it is a young statement. The youngest whisky in the mix is only 5 years old and called the Wee Beastie. The rest on the front label states `The Ultimate Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky`. And at the bottom of the label `A Monster of a Dram. Young and intensely smoky, with a rich explosive mouth feel of chocolate, tar and Savoury Meats. Cracked Black Pepper and Sappy Pine Resin on the snout´. Well that´s a statement to fulfil…… Oh it comes at a bit strange abv of 47, 4%. (Bottled 23-03-2020).
Nose: Gentle peat at first. Somewhat sweet and herbal. Needs a bit of time in the glass to open up. It is slowly getting there. The distinct smokiness of an Islay whisky is even so gentle picking up some power. Giving away hints of freshly grinded pepper on piece of meat just coming of the BBQ. Playful but not overly smoky/peaty.
Taste: Modern Peat. Mostly fresh, young and sweet at first. Mind the smoke and peat playing around those first mentioned words. Again the longer you keep the sip in your mouth the peat, smoke and ashes picking up and forcing the sweetness and grainy notes to the background. Becomes more peppery too.
Finish: Longer as you would expect from a young Ardbeg at this ABV. Quite long lingering smoke and ashes but still a bit gentle. Sweetness appears again at the very end of the finish combined with a little bit of saltiness and resin.
Conclusion: Well. I like that the use an age statement on the bottle. Forget all the commercial lines on the label. Yes it is young, but intensely and explosive is nowhere to be found. A monster of a dram? Maybe they filled mine bottle with something else. It’s lacking the punch you get from other young Islay whisky. But saying that there is more to this dram then only a punch of Peat. It is a bit on the sweet side but it is a nicely rounded and balanced Ardbeg to be enjoyed on daily bases if you want.
Did I like it? Well yes, it is a nice dram to enjoy but for me it’s nowhere near the Ten (I have to say it has been a while since I tasted a modern batch of the Ten). But again for me I like it more than the An Oa. For me at this moment I would score it 82 points. It will be widely available for around 40 euro’s.