My 10th review (and 20th post)! This is to be the last, for now at least, review of a 10 year old whisky. Since this is The Smoky Dram and I have a slight (so slight it is hardly noticeable) bias towards the Islay malts, this review will be on the Ardbeg 10. And just in time for Ardbeg day too! Although this year it is called Ardbog day.
Whisky: Ardbeg 10, 46% ABV (Cost around R580)
Region: Islay, Scotland
Style: Single Malt
Age: 10 Years
Ardbeg prides itself on being the ‘Ultimate Islay Malt Whisky’. Established in 1815, Ardbeg is revered around the world as one of the peatiest, smokiest and most complex of all the Islay malts. Despite this heavy peaty smokiness, Ardbeg is renowned for its delicious sweetness, a phenomenon that has affectionately become known as ‘the peaty paradox’.
Ardbeg is certainly one of the peatiest whiskies around and that is also available in South Africa. In 2008 it was awarded World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible and in 2010 it was awarded Gold (Best in Class) in the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC). It also features fairly often as a Sub Category Winner in the World Whisky Awards (for Peated Islay under 12 YO).
For the fans of Ardbeg they can join The Ardbeg Committee. It’s a quirky fact that Islay, with a population of just 3000, has more than 140 Committees, with the biggest one of all being The Ardbeg Committee (with a worldwide membership of over 50,000). The members of this committee, no matter how near or far, share a common purpose; to celebrate the re-awakening of Ardbeg, spread the word and dispense drams to those deprived of knowledge of this untamed spirit.
Colour: Pale straw to pale gold.
Nose: A wonderfully intense peat smoked nose, but a clean fruity peaty smoke that is followed by smoky citrus fruits (limes and lemons), smouldered fish and bacon, almonds, salt, brine and hints of dark chocolate. Has a lovely sea air minerality to it, as if you walked by the harbour or taken a stroll on Islay. Complex and sophisticated,
Palate: Zesty citrus burst on tip of tongue (lovely spicy burn) with pepper, cinnamon, citrus fruits (but smoky), smoked meats savouriness with hints of sweetness (apple orchards), briny. Sharp with initial flash of peat that leaves a beautiful smokiness at the back of your mouth. Palate is clean and crisp and pretty much continues what you got on the nose. Strikingly balanced with a smooth mouth feel.
Body: Full bodied with very many thick and lovely legs
Finish: Sweet spiciness that is tongue tingling with a lingering smokiness at the back of it that is very long. It lingers long after you have finished it.
Overall: Another one of those either you love it or hate it kind of drams with little to no middle ground. This is a powerful yet smooth peated dram with huge smoke that also has an underlying sweetness to it. Just begs for more and a fantastic dram for me.
My Score: 88