It’s been ages since I bought any Ardbeg. Generally when something new comes out it is either matured in weird casks, combined with a ridiculous marketing blurb, or ridiculously expensive. Often it is a combination of several of these factors.
Then this one came out. An age statement. No non-sense with the casks, just bourbon and a whiff of sherry casks. Instantly I loved the way they approached this bottling.
At five years old it might not be the most interesting bottling, or the best Ardbeg released in the last few years. It certainly is the most honest one. At least, the most honest one that is affordable by mere mortals like myself.
I snagged a bottle up immediately.
After using it in a tasting and giving out some samples to some people, the bottle is already gone. Let’s check why!
Light, fruity, quite spirit driven. Lemon, pear drops. Quite some straight forward peat, but not overly smoky. Salinity with sea weed. Somehow a bit peanutty.
Fierce, salty and peaty. Not overly complex and quite green. Some fresh oak, crisp with lots of coastal notes. Some lemon.
The finish suddenly is a bit more straw and barley like, more grassy. Very much Ardbeg, but a bit younger than normal. Salty, coastal, peat, and some hint of citrus fruit.
So, the no-nonsense part of the marketing is carried down to the whisky as well. There is nowhere to hide for the whisky. And it doesn’t need to. Of course it’s not the most complex whisky you’ll drink, and it won’t likely be the best either.
What this is, is a very straight forward Ardbeg that highlights the qualities of Ardbeg if it’s done right. It’s almost like a Lowlands whisky, with a massive coastal peaty note. And it’s lovely because of it.
Ardbeg Wee Beastie, 5yo, Oloroso and Bourbon casks, 47.4%. Regularly available for around € 40