Ardbeg SMWS 33.134 “Peat roasted pig Hawaiian style” & SMWS 33.143 “Thank you and goodnight!”

I’ve been here before. I just didn’t realize it when I bought the bottles.

There I was, in a black and white office, sitting back, doing what we all do at work: Try and work while talking with friends. The announcement woke me from a sound half sleep that only work could provide, knocking me from the zombie-like stare.

It entered my mind with a crash. And what a butt on it. Massive butt. An SMWS, with the word on the street being from one of my favourite distilleries, Ardbeg.

And then her sister walked up. I was in all sorts of trouble, the kind of trouble you smile through and hate yourself when it’s over.

If you walked into a distillery tomorrow, and the distiller walked you up to two casks, with juice made in them on the same day, from the same batch, and each cask they were aged in was the same type, and they were the same age, you’d assume that there wouldn’t be too much difference.

When I purchased each of these drams, I didn’t check the stats too much. I heard “IB Ardbeg at Cask strength from a single cask” and threw my money at them like a stripper that looks like the girl who got away (next time use better rope).

I didn’t realize this was the case until I sat down to do a side by side of these, and noticed that I was nearly seeing double. I saw both of them stated pork, and sighed. Had I been silly and bought the same thing twice?

Or maybe not. Like I said, I’ve been here before. Granted it was Four Roses, but perhaps, just perhaps, these will be different.

Let’s see, shall we?


33.134.jpg

Ardbeg SMWS 33.134 “Peat roasted pig Hawaiian style”

Price: Sold out

Region: Islay

Date Distilled: May 2007

Age: 8 years

Cask Type: 2nd fill butt / Ex-Sherry

Outturn: 648

Abv: 60.9%

Colour: 2.5Y 7/8

Nose: Pineapple, pork, salt crust, fruit punch, butter, campfire S’mores, molasses, jalapeno

The initial flavour is that of a Hawaiian Pizza that doesn’t have a good cheese or a lot of sauce. And as a Canadian, I sadly know that flavour, and it’ll haunt me throughout my days.

Well, it’ll slightly bother me. Not so much haunt me. Seriously, pineapple shouldn’t be on pizza.

The peat eventually pops up, and the age on the dram is evident in the heat (regardless of water/time) and the strength of the peat. Some places it works (mixes with sweets for the S’mores effect) and in others not so much (salt crust, jalapeno).

Taste: Coconut, strawberry, molasses cookie, cherry, nutmeg

Little bit raw and dry. If the nose is Ardbeg, slightly on it’s side, the taste is Ardbeg, dry with more sweets.

Good amount of molasses and spice. Feels like it needed more time in the cask for the taste. Sherry cask is more new than anything, as the light red fruits are more evident and there’s no leather notes. Takes quite awhile to get more spice from it. Or rather the molasses cookie has spice, but it’s too distant or integrated.

Finish: Croissant, coconut, sugar cookie, almond flour, cereal, apple cinnamon, dry pear

Buttery finish, with a dry, baking notes baker finish made for bakers by bakers. Like if fat people made a fragrance. I’d be the next Calvin Klein.

Seriously though, the finish is really interesting. Lots of baked goods. Again, some raw parts due to young age, but as a sweets fan, I really, really enjoy the finish. The spice is less difficult to hunt down here.

Conclusion: It’s hard to score something like this. On the one hand, you see why it was pulled early: It’s young, brash, and due to the high amount of peat has complexity past it’s age. However you also get faint “jolts” of signs that say “Keep this in the casks, dammit”. Granted it’s already selling for a high price, and capitalism doesn’t allow for perfection, just “good enough” in this case.

I enjoy the red fruits, the peat, and overall the finish the best. I don’t enjoy the nose being rough, the flour note at the end, and the taste being haggered. I personally feel my review of Ardbeg 10 is too high, and feel this is only a slight upgrade to it, so I’m giving it 1 point higher than what Ardbeg 10 should be rated at.

83/100


33.143.jpg

Ardbeg SMWS 33.143 “Thank you and goodnight!”

Price: Sold out

Region: Islay

Date Distilled: May 2007

Age: 8 years

Cask Type: 2nd fill butt / Ex-Sherry

Outturn: 582

Abv: 59.9%

Colour: 2.5Y 7/8

Nose: Cranberry, peach cobbler, fresh orange juice, vanilla ice cream, nutmeg

More wood and sherry influence on this one. Lighter, better integrated. Honestly if someone handed me this blind, I’d be completely lost. Any strong, harsh peat is more buttery or nutty or spice. It’s there, but you don’t immediately think of it.

Odd duck this. First of all because it’s not a duck. But also because it doesn’t have a strong peat influence.

Taste: Cinnamon bread, craisin, cardamon, chocolate fudge, passionfruit, pineapple

More peated influence here. At first it’s all yeast, some fruit, and spice. Peat has turned to more of a cocoa flavour, which is surprising as that usually only happens after quite a long time.

The sherry really comes out given time/water. Tropical fruits are front and centre. Or rather back and to the left, like JFK.

Finish: Brown butter, tangerine, floral salt, pineapple, ginger, pine

Here’s where it’s more youthful. Fruit, nuttiness, pine, and salty. I don’t hate the finish: On the contrary, it’s quite interesting and again, different. However it doesn’t live up to the taste and nose. Or maybe it does, because they were different, it is too. Just know that different isn’t always better.

Conclusion: I like this one better because it does Ardbeg different. It changes it into this fruity, buttery, and yeast filled dram. The taste is really quite special.

If only the finish were as good as the last one. It’s funny, what I love in the nose and taste as different just doesn’t work at the end. You hope that a big smoke comes out after being in hiding, but it ends up just not working. Beyond that, it’s a great dram, and the winner in this case. It’d win by a bigger margin if the finish wasn’t a let down. Oh well.

84/100

Scotch reviews #625-626, Islay reviews #146-147, Whisky Network reviews #1037-1038

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