Monday, 19 August 2013

Ardbog Day

On the 1st of June we were invited to take part in celebrating Ardbeg’s limited edition release of their Fèis Ìle festival bottling – Ardbog. On this day, dubbed Ardbog Day, I headed to London with my other half in tow as Dave couldn't go, as at around that time he had started to tear down his ensuite.

To make it bit more of a country feel, there was a stage full of steaming peat for people to dig through, flying sheep (oh yes there was!) & normal sheep, a nice old tractor, straw bales, shiny Ardbeg Chopper and country games where you can win prizes. All of the pictures from the day can be seen on our Facebook page here

The Ardbog T-shirt was hard to come by, I only got one after completing two tug-of-war games, some wellie wanging, a wheel barrow race, and a sack race! A cocktail half way through the day, consisting of Ardbog, lime juice, gomme syrup & lavender liquor, quenched the thirst nicely.

Slainte! Kat

Whisky Discovery #498

Ardbeg 'Ardbog' (52.1% abv, 2013)
Islay Single Malt Whisky
circa £80.00 (when it was released)

The whisky has been named after the peat bog that gives the whiskies from this distillery its heavily peated character. Ardbeg’s is one of the peatiest malt whisky, which I’ve been advised ‘with a phenol level of the peat measured at an average 55-60 parts per million’. Compared with say a Lagavulin with phenol levels of around 40 parts per million. 

Ardbog is a marriage of Ardbeg whisky that are at least 10 years old, that has been matured in bourbon cask and in Manzanilla sherry casks.

So What did we think?

Kat's notes: 

Nose: My first thought was warm buttermilk pancakes with lashings of maple syrup and rashes of crispy bacon. Followed by the smell of a burgundy Chesterfield sofa on a hot day, nutmeg, hazel nuts, toffee, medicinal aromas - TCP/Band-Aid, all balanced with a background note of smoke. It’s also noticeably dry. 

There’s not a major change to the aromas after adding a drop of water. Only noted the smokiness mellows, bringing out more of the sweet maple syrup characters & nut notes. Personally the high ABV is not a problem here and prefer this dram without water.

Palate: I was very happy when it offered most of flavours of what it promised in the nose. At the first second when it hits the palate, there’s a short hint of mint mouthwash. Shortly follow with maple syrup, toffee, peat smoke, iodine/seaweed, very nutty with a nice coating of nut oils from hazel & Brazil nuts. Again, it is a nice balance of sweet and savoury that’s a little dry which helps cut through some of the richness of this whisky. 

With water, the only change that I noticed was that the minty & smoke characters become distinctively like black cardamoms. 

Finish: Nutty, peat smoke/wood charcoal, iodine, hint of sea salt and black cardamoms. 

To sum up for me it’s like eating maple syrup pancakes with crispy bacon after brushing your teeth or using mouthwash, and somehow these flavours combined to make a really delicious dram. It is a great execution of balancing sweet, savoury, and peat smoke.

Dave's notes:

Nose: Very typically 'Ardbeg' with a definite smoky bacon 'Frazzles' over a 'stable' element, with earthy peat, straw and cowshed (yes, I've slept in one). The medicinal notes are all there; iodine, old style crepe bandages, menthol, as is the charcoal and coal dust. There are sweet notes with rich honey and good Balsamic vinegar, similar to my wife's homemade salad dressing, and plenty of sea salt. Digging deeper there are some fleeting delicate floral notes underlying.

Palate: A peaty sweetness, albeit not quite as sweet as I was expecting. Sooty charcoal notes begin give the dry mouthfeel and there's a short spicy build up, but again not quite as spicy as I was expecting, more of a mild chilli heat to me (I do eat a lot of chilli though). There's a salty tang that sneaks up on you too.

Finish: A long and drying finish, woody sawdust. The salt that sneaked up on the palate and the sherry sweetness remains for a long time too, but charcoal is more dominant and stays right through and beyond!

Verdict: I was fairly certain that Ardbog was quite similar to their Uigeadail so decided to taste these alongside each other. They both have a similar 'make up' (Bourbon and Sherry casks) although Ardbog specifies Manzanilla casks, the colour is difficult to differentiate between the two and flavour profiles are quite similar although the Uigeadail comes across as slightly sweeter and more rounded. That said the Ardbog is very drinkable however value for money? I didn't think so and would prefer to spend my hard earned cash on Uigeadail or Corrywrecken and still have some change in my pocket.

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