Ardbeg Traigh Bhan, Batch 1, 19yo, 2000-2019, 46.2%

Older Ardbeg isn’t exactly as rare as you’d expect it to be. And, compared to quite some other distilleries, it’s not even that ridiculously priced. Of course, it’s expensive, but at approximately 20 years old, they tend to clock in at € 250. A lot of money but I don’t think I can get a Lagavulin, Bowmore of Bunnahabhain for that money.

For this one, I paid slightly less, about a year and a half ago when holidaying in France. In a (to me) random little town in Brittany I found a decent bottle shop where I hoped to get some craft beers. They had those, but less than advertised. What they also had was a lot of Ardbeg. They turned out to be an Ardbeg Embassy, which meant a lot was available.

I picked up this one, and some beers, and some apple based distillates (when in Rome…). Oh, they also had a deli, so some cheese, sausages, patés and bread as well. If I remember correctly, that was a pretty decent afternoon at our camping spot!

Anyway, this 19 year old Ardbeg then. Matured in American Oak and Oloroso Sherry Casks. All kinds of batch numbers and bottle code information is available, but ‘batch 1’ will do. Let’s dive in!

A crisp but gentle coastal nose. Marram grass and fishing boats. Sea breeze and sand, with a slight salinity. Quite different from the Laphroaig. Also, the silky smokiness really works wonders.

The palate continues largely down the same line, but does add a whiff of freshly cracked black pepper. There is some apple like bitterness, coastal salinity. The coastal notes are slightly fishy too. As in, it is a bit like you’re at the sea side near some fishing boats. Crisp and bright.

The finish has a bit more sharpness. It is still bright, but the bit of heat brings a bit more warmth and richness too. Quite a long finish true to the character of the island and the distillery.

Another great one. Surprisingly different to the Laphroaig, even though they’re just 3 kilometers apart. Terroir might be of interest, but there’s a lot more to differentiate between distilleries. Again, I am surprised at how shit I am at that…

I love the focus on the coastal notes and also how this is many steps up from the 10 year old. That is, if you’re looking for something more subtle and mature. The 10 is great, but very fierce compared to this gentle giant. Absolutely gorgeous, once again!



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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