When the Ardbeg Wee Beastie was firstly exposed to the public (via the USA bottle label), I got very curious about it for it could be a brilliant marketing move. Or a fiasco.
The last official core range release from Ardbeg was Ardbeg An Oa which was a decent introductory offering for those who are afraid of ‘pure’ Ardbeg peat experience, but was priced a bit high and didn’t appeal many of the hard code Ardbeg fans.
It’s clear that Ardbeg wants to shift demand and our attention from the regular core line up offers and nudge Ardbegians and peat heads toward a young offering that retains the ARdbeg characteristics to elevate pressure on the mature stock. We saw how long it took Ardbeg to release a real mature product (the 19 Year Old Traigh Bhan last year) and they are doing it in small batches and different flavors between batches (due to lack of consistent old stock).
So the Wee Beastie is what Ardbeg hope will captivate the fans as a proper Ardbeg offer and reduce the pressure on the mature stock. For this purpose, this whisky was matured in Ex-Bourbon and Oloroso Sherry Casks and bottled at a slightly higher ABV then the usual of 47.4% (a Wee ABV or Beastie?)
It was due to go on sale in the UK around the Feis Ile Festival which got cancelled but the UK launch time remains similar and it should hit the shelves there sooner than later. However, In Europe it hit the shelves in some markets a month ago and went on sale for ~€40 but initial stock got sold out in a hurry in most places and a few stores have it in a slightly higher price (until next batch/stock is released).
Nose: Sweet, lots of vanilla, slightly farmy peat but it goes un-farmy with time. Malt, lemon-y, coconut meat, a dash of honey. After a few minutes a very gentle red fruitiness with wee peat smoke.
Palate: Oh, here are the missing tar and ashes! Sweet peat, malt, dirty, smoke, dried sour berries, mellow and creamy, drier with the bonfire smoke
Finish: Medium length, no real punch, lingering tar and peat smoke, honey, vanilla and very subtle fruitiness.
Thoughts: FWIW I think they achieved their goal. Considering it’s a 5 Year Old whisky (even if some percentage is older) it’s quite good. The nose was mellow and Wee, but the palate was a Beastie (not a beast mind you) delivering a very easy going peaty whisky. Too bad it wasn’t released at a higher ABV (say 55% and above) which then we could call it The Big Beast.