I complained a while ago that I wasn’t reviewing that many Ardbegs. Oh, and then I started reviewing Ardbegs because I’m a two-faced idiot who can’t see into the future or notice the stuff his whisky friends are buying.
But this time I bought the samples. I had friends who were wondering about Ardbeg Drum Committee Release, the stronger cask strength version of this year’s release.
Did they use drums to age it? No you stupid straw-person, why would you guess that? No, it’s aged in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in ex-Rum casks.
So rum casks…. That’s an elephant in the room. You see rum distilleries use their casks until they blow away in a slight breeze. Seriously this leaves fewer. However, with a certain country being a bit less of a dick to another country for potentially housing weapons of mass destruction, we may start seeing casks that aren’t beaten like they owe you money.
So is this a sign of better casks? How’d it turn out? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask Type: Ex-Bourbon Cask / Ex-Rum Cask Finish
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Smokey pear, brown sugar, barnyard, black tea, pastry
Hmm, at first very much your typical Ardbeg flavour profile. Then something slightly… new? Some brown sugar. Is it new? Not really, but it seems stronger. Seems the rum cask has brought out more tannins and molasses this time.
Water brings out water. Seems lighter than other Ardbegs, like the elephant is cancelling out the peat. Which given the size of an elephant I could see.
Taste: Barnyard, cinnamon, caramel, nori, bitter melon
More famry, more salty/spicy than normal. The more I go looking for rum aspects the more I have trouble differentiating them from the peat. Maybe that’s the point?
Water makes this really vegetal/bitter. But without the bad stomach ache from bitter melon, so that’s a plus, right? Uh, let’s move on.
Finish: Funk, cereal, lemon pepper, smoke, brown sugar
Okay, starting to wake up. Some funk, some citrus, some… nope, just more muted Ardbeg. Water brings out the brown sugar again.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on the flavours, it’s just… This is a special edition people, we’re looking for fireworks here. And we’re not getting them.
Conclusion: Tannic brown sugar muted Ardbeg. Next. With the tannins at the start and then… oh well. It all seems like an interesting idea. Add some of those rum characteristics. It does add funk, it does add more barnyard.
However it never adds enough. We needed more than a finish. Or we needed more than the level of quality of rum casks used here. I was worried about rum casks, and it came true. I’m therefore a soothsayer. Or just a guy who keeps looking for a really good rum cask whisky.
Scotch review #1129, Islay review #302, Whisky review #1751