Well, it's that time of the year again... June 1st, Ardbeg
day is approaching fast and Ardbeg fans started to fidget nervously quite a while ago. The distillery
's new special release for the day is about to be released and most probably it will be sold out even before it hits the shelves. Drammers everywhere are trying to get their tickets to attend one of the release parties happening all over the world and also playing all the tricks known to whisky world to get their hands on one of those very limited bottles. The name was announced a while ago: Ardbog! It's matured in Manzanilla Sherry butts and in traditional American white oak ex-bourbon barrels separately for ten years and then mixed just before it got bottled in cask strength. Color:
Clear amber with quite visible legs. Nose:
Much rounder and softer than I expected. Salted caramel, olive brine and warm olive rolls. When I close my eyes I see myself at the counter of a tapas bar in Barcelona. Cured meat, olive oil with thyme and rosemary, grilled banana peppers and asparagus. Dried sea salt spots on your skin after a pleasant afternoon swim. Peat is there but more like a slow going beach side barbecue, nothing aggressive. Water adds some faint fruity notes like fried bananas and salted pineapple slices. Palate:
Pretty briny start. Unfiltered Mediterranean extra virgin olive oil over meaty Kalamata olives. Cured meat parade promised at the nose is all there. Consistent but by no means overpowering peat notes are present throughout the whole ride. Very oily and creamy texture covers your mouth and delivers some gentle sweetness towards the end. Adding a few drops amplifies the salty notes. Finish:
Long with all the sweet notes surfaced towards the end of the palate. Roasted salty pecans and maybe some buckwheat honey. Overall:
So, I don't like to compare these yearly special releases with the earlier ones like everybody does. I also don't think that Dr. Bill Lumsden and his team are trying to come up with a better crowd pleaser every year. I am actually pretty glad that we are tasting something radically different every time. Otherwise this tasting/blogging thing would be pretty boring... Anyway, I can easily say that I liked the Ardbog very much. Amazingly smooth and easy going in spite of it's high abv of 52.1%. All those salty, coastal and meaty qualities on top of the sweet and peaty backbone of Ardbeg worked perfectly harmonious for me. I think it would suit quite amazing the coming summer nights. If you are a whisky lover who feels time to time a little sore to sweeter expressions of Islay distilleries you will definitely love this one. Thanks to Ardbeg and David Blackmore for the official sample.