North Star Ardbeg 12-Year-Old Single Cask Whisky
A very chance to try a single cask, cask strength Ardbeg that has been labelled as such, this is a powerful, pungent expression from the famous Islay distillery.
This cask has been released by Iain Croucher’s Glasgow-based independent bottler, North Star. This is part of their fourth series of releases.
This was distilled March 2005 and bottled February 2018 as a 12-year-old. It was matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead which yielded 332 bottles worldwide at 51.9%.
Ardbeg is one of Scotland’s most famous distilleries with one of the most intense cult followings in the industry. This 2005 vintage is part of the distillery’s modern era, which has seen consistent distilling and character moulding since Glenmorangie purchased it in 1997.
The distillery has appeared in independent bottlings, but almost never under its true name. This is a very rare example of an independent bottler being allowed to use the distillery’s name, and that is reflected in the price North Star had to pay to secure the barrel.
Quite a spirit driven Ardbeg, there are not the sweet cask influences we usually see on the official bottlings. Instead, this is a brash, intense expression that takes time and a willing palate to unravel. The benefits are evident to those who have both of those.
Official tasting notes:
Nose: Pungent peat and pineapple.
Palate: Salted smoke and black cherry tobacco.
Finish: Is there such a thing as sweet gunpowder?
Tasting notes by Serge at WhiskyFun.com:
This is clearly new regime Ardbeg, so this should be interesting. We’ve already tried these vintages but those were always bottled as ‘Kildalton’, or any other fancy name, never as Ardbeg if I remember well…
Nose: A working kiln, peat smoke, burning oak, dried kelp, a touch of tarmac but less than in earlier decades vintages, new bicycle inner tube (as long as some bicycles still have inner tubes), perhaps a wee touch of phosphorus, bone-dry artisan cider… With water: wash, damp textile, sourdough, baker’s yeast and leaven… The cask’s been pretty lazy, and that has been a blessing.
Palate: More extreme than I would have thought. Could you smoke a blend of grapefruit juice and ultra-ristretto coffee? It is extremely dry and bitter, and I really enjoy this. Noilly-Prat, Fernet-Branca, cold-distilled manzanilla (should anyone be crazy enough to do that)… With water: should you add enough water down to approx 15% vol., you would get manzanilla. Mustard, smoke, salt, seawater.
Finish: Very long, extremely sooty and ashy. Remember you just had the ashtray?
Comments: Extreme and good. So extremely good, but please do not try to pour this to total beginners
Ardbeg Grooves Single Malt Whisky
The 2018 limited edition Ardbeg Day release from the famed Islay distillery – Ardbeg Grooves has arrived in limited quantities.
Inspired by the free spirits of the ‘60s and described by the distillery themselves as “intensely mellow”, this has been crafted from their “grooviest casks ever”. Those casks in question are heavily toasted ex-red wine casks, the heavy char opening up the barrels with deeper “grooves” than normal.
In real terms that brings out more wood spice as the whisky penetrated further into the oak.
On allocation in Australia.
Official tasting notes:
Nose: Intense aromas of smoked cinnamon and paprika, antique leather and saddle soap, with classic Ardbeg scents of pine resin, tar and briny sea spray in the background. A distant hint of a fragrant bonfire by the shores of the distillery and, finally, an unusual savoury note, like chilli-seasoned meats. A little splash of water releases some beautiful, unexpected aromas: lavender scented soap, ground white pepper, floral and herbal notes entwined. Fresh flowers mix with coriander leaves and mint.
Palate: A powerfully salty mouthfeel drifts into sweet vibes of treacle toffee, vanilla popcorn, salted fruits (peaches) with soot and tar. Again, those distinctive savoury notes of smoky BBQ, paprika and mustard spice, fading into an unexpected haze of smoked pears and apples, almost like pear cider.
Finish: Smoked paprika and bonfires with a mellow sweetness throughout.
Ardbeg An Oa Single Malt
A new release for 2017, An Oa is the first new addition to Ardbeg’s permanent range in eight years.
Pronounced ‘an oh’, this expression has been matured in a number of casks types – including Pedro Ximenez sherry, ex-bourbon and virgin oak – before they are married together in the distillery’s ‘Gathering Vat’, which is made out of French Oak.
The result expression hold all of Ardbeg’s trademark ash smoke and sweet notes with a slightly gentler, smoother touch than its stablemates.
A worthy addition to the canon of the famous Islay distillery.
Ardbeg Kelpie 2017 Limited Release Single Malt
The Kelpie is the 2017 limited release from Islay distillery Ardbeg for their annual ‘Ardbeg Day’ celebrations.
The retail version of Kelpie is bottled at 46% and un-chill filtered. A portion has been matured in virgin oak casks, crafted from oak grown near the Black Sea.
An Ardbeg with spice and salinity, there’s still plenty of trademark ashy smoke and sweet toffees underneath.
Very limited allocation.
Ardbeg 'Renaissance' 1998 Vintage Single Malt
A liquid piece of Ardbeg's modern history, the Renaissance expression was released in 2008 as the culmination of the distillery's revival beginning ten years earlier.
After a near-decade of only small activity, the Glenmorangie company bought Islay's Ardbeg distillery in 1997 and began the process of restoring proper production - they reached their production target of 600,000 litres by 1999.
Whislt Ardbeg bottlings were appearing on the market during this time, they were being created from the distillery's old stock. While the excellent and ongoing Uigeadail expression was launched in 2003, it wasn't until 2004 that the first 'new' mature release emerged in the form of 'Very Young' - a young, fire-breathing five-year-old.
Then came 'Still Young' in 2006 with all its bravado and 2007 ushered in the 'Almost There'. In 2008 the journey for the new owners was complete and this ten-year-old 'Renaissance' expression was released, the final chapter in the Very Young-Still Young-Almost There journey.
Distilled in 1998 and bottled in 2008, this was released at 55.9% cask strength. Whislt this is admittedly a very collectable bottle - the complete sets fetch unbelievable amounts - it is also a fantastic expression. We've managed to import a very small number of bottles, whose value is only going to rise.
A clean, fruity whisky by the distillery's own lofty standards, it has plenty of wood and coal smoke emerging from the background. As is often the case with cask strength peated whiskies, a dash of water and time brings the smoke to the fore.
Ardbeg Dark Cove Single Malt Whisky
Ardbeg's 2016 limited edition release Dark Cove has got its name thanks to the use of 'dark' ex-sherry casks alongside ex-bourbon casks during maturation.
One of the best annual Ardbeg Day releases in recent years, this has all the hallmarks of Ardbeg's ashy, sooty peat smoke.
Available in limited quantities.
Bigger on the smoke than last year's Perpetuum or the Auriverdes before it, there are also lemon citrus, vanilla, chocolate and pepper spice elements in Dark Cove.
Ardbeg Perpetuum Limited Edition
The 2015 limited edition single malt expression released for Ardbeg Day 2015, Perpetuum is a very smooth, approachable style from the distillery.
Known for their intense ashy, smoky whiskies, Islay's Ardbeg toned things down for 2015's Auriverdes release. The wick is back up in 2015, but this is a more elegant version.
With 12,000 bottles released worldwide, this contains whiskies matured in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks.
Tar, soot and pine resin leads to dark chocolate, treacle toffee, and a distant, nutty/oaky note. Water initiates fresh, briny sea-spray, linseed oil, and a pine resin/lime top note. Remarkably fresh for such a peaty whisky. Intense on the palate with robust peat smoke, savoury smoky bacon, cinnamon
Pronounced ‘Oog-a-dal’, it’s a special vatting that marries Ardbeg’s traditional deep, smoky notes with luscious, raisiny tones of old ex-Sherry casks. Ardbeg Uigeadail was voted by the 120,000+ strong Ardbeg Committee as their favourite Ardbeg.
Rich and weighty with heady and smoky aromatics. Notes of Christmas cake, walnut oil and violets fused salt, cedar and pine needle. With water, the deep smokiness increases in intensity, reminiscent of a fired Christmas pudding.
Full flavoured and rich with a deep mouth-coating texture, the taste is an intriguing balance between sweet, spicy and deep smoky flavours alongside notes of chocolate and treacle. The finish is smokey with coffee notes.
Ardbeg 10 Year Old Single Malt
A classic Islay peat-monster at a great price point, this famous dram is revered around the world for its ashy, oaky and coastal influences.