Right after I reviewed their epic rum, I got an email another sample was making its way to my humble abode. This time, a 20 year old Single Cask Ardbeg, under the original label from the distillery.
Knowing the level of quality that Wu Dram Clan aspires to, I knew that this must be quite something, and to be honest I was a bit surprised that Ardbeg had casks available that reached this echelon.
Of course, as with most of these bottlings, this will most likely never see a shop shelf and currently sits in the secondary market at Whiskybase for a ‘mere’ € 3000 (not a typo). Not entirely surprising, the original price was € 1900. A stellar amount of money for a bottle of booze, but with the industry being what it is, I don’t think anyone sees this as something new, but as confirmation.
Let’s dive in!
Warming with lots of bonfires, charcoal and bone dry peat. A slightly acidic hint too, with notes of ammonia, star fruit, granny smith apples, a hint of kiwi fruit and straw. Scents of harbour and tar and rope come up too.
The dryness combined with white pepper make for a rather impactful approach, astringent almost. Ground and freeze dried lemon, lemon balm and a fatty feel of tar and rope. Some brine, straw and that awesome note of ammonia. A bit off nuttiness from the slightly fatty mouthfeel with almonds and macadamia. There is smoke, but it’s rather timid.
The finish is very reminiscent of much older Ardbeg, with a kippery note, washed up wood and salt crust (like on boats). Some fruits again, star fruit and crisp apple. Slightly acidic,more like lime than lemon now. Tar, rope, canvas sails, marram grass.
That note of ammonia is something I normally associate with Bowmore. They have a lower level of peat smoke in their whisky, and maybe that’s why it gets a bit more wiggle room. I find it awesome to encounter that in this Ardbeg and love it all the more for it.
The complexity of the fruit, the smoke and seaside harbour notes makes for a great experience, and what intrigues me most of all is that it still feels very well integrated. It’s not that it’s split into levels, or a jumble of flavors. It’s a single thing that slowly reveals all different aspects of the same whisky.