Welcome to a new series I’m calling “I’m Ar-begging you to stop making these puns”, in which I review all of the Ardbeg samples I’ve had sitting around, unreviewed.
We continue with Ardbeg from the 1990s. This time, though, we have an original bottling from the company itself. The last time there was an Ardbeg 21 like this was in 2001, when I was just starting university.
Kinda wish I had bought a bottle, however I wasn’t in Scotland at the time, so I don’t beat myself up about it.
So how do these differ? Well as we know, methods for making Ardbeg has changed since the legendary runs in the 70s. The company started up again in the early 90s, and then was purchased by Glenmorangie in the later 90s. Think more boy bands then grunge (but not for too long) for the rough time.
So first off, this is Ardbeg made under Glenmorangie. Second of all, it is not cask strength. Beyond that? I can see they are both ex-bourbon cask releases. Oh, and you may be able to find this version of Ardbeg 21, so there’s that too.
While it may not be some of the legendary juice from the 70s, it dos help my current run of older 90s whiskies, and how they taste. So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: No longer available
Cask Type: Ex-bourbon casks
Colour: 5Y 8/8
Nose: Nectarine turnover, diesel engine, charred oak, basil
Initial nose of stone fruits and butter. Cooked butter. Maybe mix it with some flour too. Yeah, that’s how you do it.
Some interesting notes with it, like being at a gas station almost. The smoke is showing up more than the previous 18 I had, which is nice.
Taste: Werthers, pulled pork, dates, cereal, mint
Lots of caramel and meatiness on the taste. Wonderful dates and cereal too. It’s quite rich, more so than normal for all ex-bourbon. Not a lot of spice or sign of peat here at all.
Older peated malts normally have some chocolate or other rich, earth based element. This just has dates. And as most people will tell you, they want chocolate over dates.
Finish: Oily, peppery, apple pie, lemon-lime soda, coconut, char
Long finish. Very long finish. Some lighter elements here, with some of the aforementioned cinnamon that I was looking for in the ex-peat finally showing up, as well as some char.
That said, it’s not something I’d believe was an Ardbeg upon trying blind.
Conclusion: So the last dram was grassy, and this one is apple baked goods. It’s definitely interesting to try, however the lower abv. has made it too easy drinking for my personal tastes.
Don’t get me wrong: I doubt many who buy a bottle will be sad about this as a whisky. As a scotch it’s quite tasty, and my score represents that. However as an old Ardbeg? It’s hard to say. I honestly am missing some power, some strength, and some complexity here.
Scotch review #850, Islay review #208, Whisky Network review #1369