Thanks to /u/Saba007 for pouring me this dram.
I don’t review Ardbeg often. Why? Well, they guarantee to bring out one special edition a year, two if you count the committee and non-committee versions. I live in a province that gets it super late (and typically overprices these releases), and the other releases would require me to eat nothing but beans all year.
Yeah, I couldn’t even have rice with those beans.
I’m not complaining either. As someone who has loved previous versions and even collected multiple decades old versions of Ardbeg, this is the bed I’ve made. It’s the way things are.
Thus I was quite excited to try Ardbeg 15 2000 Chieftain’s, an independently bottled, age stated Ardbeg. I’ve stated before that the 70s and 90s Ardbegs are rare, and while interesting and legendary, most of them are out of reach. So how was Ardbeg from the aughts? What should we start seeing now, and should we be waiting or pining for the peaty whisky moving forward?
Let’s see how this particular whisky impacts that view, and how this particular single cask is, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask Type: Barrels?
Cask # 946/949
Total number of bottles: 1,123
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Tar, chocolate, mint, ash, black pepper
The initial nose is classic Ardbeg. So I wait for more. Get some chocolate. That’s good. So I wait for more. I mean, this is a premium, lower alcohol single cask Ardbeg. I’m seeing if money has been well spent.
It doesn’t really grow beyond that. If you’ve had the 10.. Wait, the 10 has more alcohol! This is a milder version. Chocolate is nice.
Taste: Lime, ash, chocolate, malt, cream
Lots of lime. A ton of lime on this one. Creamy, more chocolate, which is a good flavour (I originally wrote chocolate was always good then remembered the sheer amount of child slavery involved in chocolate so I deleted that).
More lime forward. I’m really reaching for more and not getting it.
Finish: Lime sorbet, chocolate, brine, malt, green banana
More lime! At least now it’s sweeter and somewhat creamy, but yeah. The lime takes the spotlight.
It does start to build out at the finish, but it’s giving these youthful notes of green banana and simple malt.s
Conclusion: Too lime forward, not enough compared to other Ardbegs. Still quite raw, even given the age. I mean, at the end of the day, I love to drink Ardbeg. I do. I know there’s whisky geeks who I lose in saying that, and that’s completely fair. I have biases, like everyone else.
That all said, and this is coming from an Ardbeg fanboy… this is a miss. It’s banking on us wanting something we don’t see all the time: Independently bottled, older than normal, single cask Ardbeg. But given that there’s places selling a 43.5% Ardbeg for over 200 Euros, I think we’ve been had.
This needed more time. It needed some tweaking, it needed more to it. It’s just lime and raw malt and tar. It didn’t work, and they watered it down to make back their money. The entire system is off, burn it all down and start again.
Oh, or just wait to see how things are and try to move onto other distilleries that are less expensive, regardless of your fanatic needs/wants.
Scotch review #1112, Islay review #297, Whisky review #1728