This year I was lucky enough to attend Ardbeg Day. Typically I’m not able, as it’s usually the same day as my wedding anniversary. Thus it’s a little difficult to convince my wife that we should go drink whisky. Don’t get me wrong: She likes a nip of whisky here or there and likes a peated dram just as much as the next person married to me, however, she’s more of a “lets do something out of town” kinda lady.
This year was different though, so I was lucky enough to try Ardbeg Grooves. The story behind this is it’s partially made up of whiskies that were aged in re-toasted red wines. If you remember back to a previous release, Ardbeg Alligator, they did something similar with heavy char, giving it more of a smokey, spicy flavour.
So there you have the name. But why the 60s flavour? Well, it turns out that Islay in the 1960s was a pretty happening place for free love. I think. I both have not been able to get to Islay yet and wasn’t born in the 60s. Also, this was the fourth dram and I may have mixed up what I was hearing during the day.
But at the end of the day, it’s what’s in the bottle that matters. At least that’s what my alcoholic great uncle used to slur in a gutter somewhere.
I kid. He was addicted to cocaine.
That was also a joke. I’m too scared these days to leave it sitting there without stating its a joke less someone on Twitter calls me out and bemoans how much I hate the world.
Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: $199.95 CAD at the LCBO
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Currant, strawberry, pepper beef, lime pudding, vanilla syrup
The red wine is quite evident here. Lots of initial red fruit, and then more meatiness. Nice sweetness pops out. Kinda strong as it opens up more and more.
Big vanilla near the end. It’s quite the vanilla bomb.
Taste: Floral, manure, coal/char, beef, plum, chocolate
Meaty, floral, and lots of farmyards. It’s quite strong. There’s quite a bit of alcohol influence here.
I’m starting to think red wine casks haven’t been given the time they need when it comes to whiskies. In this case, there’s some really nice development of the peated malt that goes nicely with the red wine. That all said, some aspects need more work. The char here hasn’t developed like the Alligator had.
Finish: Brine, beets, floral, manure, cocoa, dry pear, straw
Finish fixes some of the issues on the taste. Lots of farmyard development, more pear, and very close to Ardbeg 10, with more dry fruit aspects.
Wish there was a bit more alcohol. I’ll have to grab the Committee Release soon. See if the finish is long.
Conclusion: An excellent experiment that I feel needs to be done again. That’s not to say it’s bad or it’s good, I just think this is a good first step. Some Ardbeg needs to be laid down longer, solely in red wine casks like this and see where it goes.
As it stands, this is a different, unique Ardbeg with lots of farmyard elements. There are better Ardbegs out there. However if this leads to something similar to another Dark Cove, then I’m all for experimentation like this more often.
Scotch review #913, Islay review #242, Whisky Network review #1463