Thanks to /u/oliviervdv for both making this (yes, making it) and sending me a sample!
Before you get too worried, start looking through all the potential whiskies, and start breaking down Glenmorangie’s door, no, Ardbeg 10 Portwood is not on the market at the moment. It was made by oliviervdv, in his… house, I’m assuming. Totally not a shack in the wilds of Quebec, with John A. McDonald’s random scratches still in the walls.
So, how was this made? Well he filled a new 1l cask with Cruz Reserve Ruby port for 1 month. Then he dumped the port, and filled the now seasoned and empty cask with 1 bottle of Ardbeg 10. It stayed there for 1 week. And to ensure quality, he tasted it every day starting from day 4.
I’m assuming it was for quality. Maybe he was just drinking to drink. Maybe it was the only alcohol in the house. Who knows?
What we do know is we (and by that I mean me and a whole bunch of people I assume think like me) have been chomping at the bit for an Ardbeg that saw a port cask. And for some reason we’ve gotten Marsala casks, Madeira casks, sherry casks, and even Russian oak casks. But no port casks.
I assume someone at Ardbeg angered someone in Portugal, in what I can only assume is a huge fight that involves explosions, kilts, and fish and coriander.
Granted it could be that the same company sells a Glenmorangie that uses port casks as a standard dram and it’s less profitable to use them for a random Ardbeg.
Or perhaps Ardbeg knows that they don’t mix well? Or maybe it’s still in development? But we’re impatient. So let’s see how this home version did, shall we?
Price: Not for sale, but you too can make it!
Region: Islay + Quebec, but mostly Islay, so… Islay
Abv: Less than 46%, but never measured, so… quantum alcohol content at the moment.
Colour: 7.5YR 7/10
Nose: Peat, iodine, graham crackers, cocoa, lemon lime soda, churros, black cherry
Initial nose is full on Ardbeg notes of peat and slight salt. Then some sweetness comes in, but not too outside the norm for an Ardbeg.
However given some time, more and more fruit, spice, and a butter-notes pop out. Really strong notes. Like the port is amping them up.
Taste: Cinnamon, peat, plum, graham cracker, buttery, strawberry sundae
More butter notes. Lovely strawberry and vanilla notes. Again, it starts out like a sweeter Ardbeg, however then there’s butter and… wait, more sweet notes. Maybe I should reconsider how I wrote this?
Okay, back up: There’s lots of sweets here. It’s lacking the normal dry elements of an Ardbeg. Instead there’s more butter, vanilla, and some random plum. Really nice.
Finish: Dry pear, prune, chocolate, basil, blueberries, coconut oil, graham cracker, pepper pork
More chocolate on the finish than normal. Bigger flavours. Richer, actually. Tons of pork influence given some time.
Oddly enough the dry parts come back at the end. There’s some sweet elements here as well, but it’s drier than normal.
Conclusion: A sweeter, big peat dram that improves given time. There’s way more chocolate, more cinnamon, more butter, and less dry elements. Really this is like going to a high end gelato shop run by hipsters who make flavours that are different than a traditional gelato shop. Sure, nonna may not like them, but they’re good.
Nice elements of spice, good earth and dry elements on the finish, and big fruits. Somehow the vanilla of the ex-bourbon is more pronounced now. This is an improvement.
Which just makes me wonder when the official is going to come out.
Scotch review #624, Islay review #145, Whisky Network review #1035