Ardbeg 2003-2011, 7yo, 59.6% – SMWS (33.101 – Fabulous, thigh slapping smoke)

Another one of those funky names from the SMWS, but this one is less ridiculous than some, and actually makes some sense.

It’s the other whisky we tried while we were at The Vaults in Leith. It was recommended that we only try a few and take the rest home. Whether that was because they didn’t want five drunk Dutch guys, or because we would otherwise spend more money remains unclear.

Obviously we could have handled five cask strength whiskies. It’s not like we were not training for it the entire week. But anyway, we tried two from the five we got with our Society’s Share stuff. We had some others before and after dinner but I didn’t take notes. After all, I was out with mates and not being overly geeky.

We picked this young and hopefully fiery Ardbeg because we had been reminiscing about the Ardbegs we had when we all just started drinking whisky. Mostly the Still Young and Almost There releases in the run up to the Renaissance bottling.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

It’s very light, but very fierce. Lots of dry straw and quite floral. Wildflowers. Quite some vanilla and lots of salty smoke. Slightly fishy and coastal, which is exactly what we hoped for. Not much oak (it’s 7 years old…) but there some sweetness of the spirit.

The palate is very dry and very sharp. Sweet, but light vanilla, Crema Catalana (I somehow have the idea that is lighter than creme brulee). Straw and wildflowers again. It does mellow out, but that means some serious sloshing.

The finish is really nice and full. Slightly salty with vanilla and straw, lots of smoke. Long.

While this might not be the most complex young Ardbeg I’ve ever had, it sure is tasty. And it does exactly what I hoped it would do. It gives you a punch in the face with the forward flavors of smoke and salt, and a lot of alcohol.

In rating this one I have to try and do it without too many memories of yonder year influencing the results. But, in the end it’s a very solid young Ardbeg. They are nice, but not that interesting. Although these single casks beat most official releases, I think.


Ardbeg 2003-2011, 7yo, 59.6%, 1st Fill Bourbon Barrel, SMWS (33.101 – Fabulous, thigh slapping smoke).


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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