Well, I have been debating about whether or not I wanted to review this one for a while now. It is a cold night in Boston, and I poured myself a dram. Honestly, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I wanted to rant and rave about this one, so that is what I decided to do. Without further ado, my review of the Ardbeg 10 year-old single malt Scotch whisky. It is non-chill filtered and bottled at 92 proof (46% abv).
Ardbeg Distillery has an intriguing history. Distillation first began at Ardbeg on Islay in 1794 (only Bowmore is an older distillery on Islay), although the current site of the distillery began crafting whiskies in 1815. Over the years, Ardbeg became known as one of the peatiest malts in Scotland. However, due to problems with ownership and demand, Ardbeg closed between 1982 and 1989, and it was closed again in 1996. Even still, Ardbeg remained a highly-sought whisky for many connoisseurs. Just when it looked like the distillery would be closed forever, it was bought out in 1997 by Glenmorangie, and Ardbeg was revived. In 2000, Ardbeg introduced the 10 year-old, which I am reviewing today. Many other brilliant whiskies followed, and Ardbeg is now regarded as one of the finest distilleries in the world.
On the nose, the 10 yr. takes you right to Islay. There is a salty, peaty backbone to the nose, but there is a lot of depth. There are notes of potpourri, black pepper, citrus fruits (limes), evergreens, gin botanicals, and pears. The palate is medium-bodied, but full-flavored. The backbone is the earthy, wet, salty peat, but there is a ton of depth in this one. There are salty hearty notes, like bacon and prosciutto, followed by sweet notes of cocoa powder, milk chocolate, burnt chocolate, citrus peels, and some floral arrangements. The finish is long and complex, with fresh bell peppers, crackling black pepper, sauteed peppers, leather, tobacco, all backed by that wonderful Islay peat. As the finish lingers, it moves back and forth from sweet chocolate to spicy smoke and wet peat.
Overall, this is a brilliant whisky that has layers of depth. It is an Islay malt that will get you through a fall day, but it won’t bulldoze your palate. There is good reason that this whisky is sought after; it drinks beautifully anytime. It can take water beautifully, but I prefer it neat. My only complaint about this one is that it is expensive given its age. It is only ten years old, yet it is rarely priced under $55-60 here in Boston. On the other side of that coin, it is a brilliant single malt for only $55, regardless of its age. Age is just a number, but in the case of Ardbeg, 10 years age is damn near perfect. My grade: A-. Price: $50-60/750ml. This is my favorite base malt to date, and it is a special occasion after dinner dram worth every penny. If this one is on sale, I usually grab a bottle (or three).
To compare tasting notes, check out my friend William’s review here.