The next Fèis Ìle 2020 bottling we review actually doesn’t mention the festival name on the whisky label or the box. Instead, Ardbeg continue their tradition of only mentioning (and celebrating) their Ardbeg Day event which is traditionally the last day of the festival.
So it’s Ardbeg BlaaacK (for Ardbeg Day 2020) which we check out today. It’s called Blaaack which is a brilliant marketing stroke, celebrating the Committee 20th anniversary and saluting to the Islay sheeps using New Zealand Pinot Noir wine casks (because you know, New Zealand and sheeps…).
The bottle is of course black and the entire box/label design is beautiful. While the committee version was bottled at 50.7%, the Ardbeg Day version was bottled at 46% and was widely available around the festival time.
Ardbeg BlaaacK (Ardbeg Day 2020) (46%, £94)
Nose: Sweet red berries, a bowl full of raspberries and gooseberries, gentle peat smoke, vanilla. After a few minutes in the glass more sour-sweet berries and cherries, kelp seaweed, seaside breeze, lemon zest, honeyed fruits and more vanilla and eventually also tobacco and cocoa. Not bad at all and in fact, I find it quite good.
Palate: Starts with half-hearted and watered-down peat blast, vanilla, ashes, chimney smoke, bonfire smoke, sweet red berries, red grapes, oak spice, wood tannins. There’s a feeling of a sour side from peat and less dominant sweet side from fruits. Overall it’s far less intense then the nose nose hints at and sadly feels a bit watery most times.
Finish: Medium length, weak flavors, drier, wood spices, tannins, earthy peat, a bit of smoke, red grapes and sour berries, a lots of smoke bitterness.
Thoughts: The name and design are brilliant and the nose continue the trend with lovely combo of Ardbegness and red fruits. But frankly – it falls apart grandiosely on the palate. The palate feels so reduced and watery comparing to the nose. I didn’t try yet the Committee version which is a tad stronger so there’s hope the palate there won’t disappoint so much or at all.