Today, I will be concluding Scotchvember on Thanksgiving with a review of a wonderfully warming Islay single malt, Ardbeg Uigeadail. Ever since Jim Murray awarded this the greatest whisky in the world in 2009, much has been made about this highly-awarded single malt. Before I get too far into my opinion on Uigeadail, what exactly is “Uigeadail?” The name of the whisky comes from the loch where Ardbeg gets its peaty water supply. There is no age statement on the whisky itself, but I have heard that most of the spirit is between seven and twelve years old. The whisky in the bottle is a vatting of whisky aged in Oloroso Sherry casks, first-fill bourbon casks, and refill bourbon casks. According to Ardbeg’s Distillery Manager, Mickey Heads, most batches of Uigeadail are comprised of approximately 20% sherried spirit, with the rest of the whisky being divided between first and second fill bourbon casks. Uigeadail is non-chill filtered and bottled at 108.4 proof (54.2% abv).
On the nose, Ardbeg Uigeadail presents that famous Ardbeg peat, but that is not all. There are also notes of mesquite BBQ sauce, asphalt, and mocha. There is a dark sweetness that works beautifully with the peat on the nose. The palate, however, is where this whisky truly comes alive. The palate is full-bodied with a brilliant balance between sweet and peat. The luscious, rolling peat is present throughout the palate, but it is rounded out beautifully by honey, vanilla, raisins, and dried mangos. The finish is long and complex, starting out peaty, and then evolving into sweet, dark cigar tobacco (Maduro) and black coffee. Water brings out sweeter flavors in the nose, such as roses and honeysuckle, while bringing forth dark chocolate and sherry on the palate.
This whisky continues to evolve as I go through the bottle and as I add water to the glass. Different flavors come alive with each drop of water, but I love this whisky most at its full bottle strength. The complexity and balance is superb throughout the sip at a level few whiskies can seek to achieve. I truly believe this is one of the finest whiskies I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. If you love peat, Ardbeg Uigeadail is the pinnacle of peat and cask influence in a young, affordable Islay whisky. My grade: A/A+. Price: $70-80/750ml. The price makes this a reasonable dram, and the whisky in the bottle screams to be unleashed on the most special of occasions.