Tag Archives: Ardbeg

Ardbeg BlaaacK (Ardbeg Day 2020)

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)

Photo: whiskyinternationalonline.com

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. Continue reading


Ardbeg Wee Beastie

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).

Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5 Year Old (47.4%,€48,90 , $40.97)

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. Continue reading

Ardbeg 19 Traigh Bhan

In the wake of the news of the forthcoming Ardbeg Blaaack (An Ardbeg Comittee for 2020, possibly Ardbeg day release), it’s a good idea to review one of Ardbeg releases and one that was eagerly expected by Ardbeg fans for years – Ardbeg 19 Traigh Bhan.

I remember myself waiting patiently over the years for a new core line-up Ardbeg with a higher age statement from the new regime stock. But when the opportunity to release a new 15,17 (now that could be something – a rebirth of the 17!) or 18 year old expressions has passed without new releases, but then we got the 19 year old.

The new 19 year old Traigh Bhan is now part of the core line-up but it will be produced as an annual batch of unknown count of bottles. What really tickled my curiosity was the fact they said each batch will be slightly different from each other. It dawned on me that Ardbeg are victims of their own success where almost everything they produce goes towards the 10/Uigeadail/Corryvreckan and there’s not enough mature stock from the first years to produce a consistent mature release.

Or maybe they didn’t want to release it but caved under the market and beans counter demands to produce an older expression to sell for a higher price tag?

Either way, I wasn’t going to let this release pass without checking it out!

Ardbeg 19 Traigh Bhan (46.2%, £219.99/€192/$258)

Photo: thewhiskyexchange.com

Nose: A modern Ardbeg – you cannot really compare it to old regime Ardbeg expressions like ANB or Ardeg 17. Peat smoke, lemon, a very classical and toned down 10yo at first, honey, lime, yuzu, exotic far east citrus , brioche, soft and sweet peat and soot, a bit coastal with sea breeze, chimney smoke and almonds. Continue reading

Ardbeg An Oa Review

Ardbeg An Oa is the latest addition to Ardbeg core range. It was released in late 2017 and I totally neglected to review it till now.

Despite the hope we’d get an older Ardbeg with an age statement (say 15 or 18 Year Old), Ardbeg An Oa is like Corryvreckan and Uigeadail and doesn’t carry an age statement. So it’s a NAS whisky and it contains spirit that was aged in PX sherry casks and bourbon barrels that were married together in a French oak vat. Let’s check it out:

Ardbeg An Oa (46.6%, £48.95/€47,90/$52.99)

Nose: Sweet, rounded and restrained (relatively to all those modern Ardbeg) peat, a bit of lemon, honey, a touch of vanilla, smoke, apricot, herbal notes after a while with mint and aniseed. Very approachable. Continue reading

Ardbeg 1991 25 Year Old ‘Shieldmaiden Malin’ (The Duchess) Review

Today’s the Last day of Feis Ile 2017 and it’s Ardbeg day, also celebrated in Ardbeg embassies all around in the world. I’ve already reviewed the committee edition of this year Festival bottling, the Kelpie, so let’s go and close it out with a bang, reviewing an indie Ardbeg – a 1991 25 year old Ardbeg, bottled by my friend Nils an Rijn, who’s behind the  Dutch shop Best of Wines under the The Duchess brand.

A bit of history: Ardbeg were closed since early 1981 until 1989 and then was working a mere two months a year, operated by Laphroaig personnel until the last closure at 1996. That means it’s quite rare to see a bottling from this period as we’re used to post 96 or 70s bottles.

Ardbeg 1991 25 Year Old ‘Shieldmaiden Malin’ (The Duchess) (49.8%, €794,99)

Nose: Farmy with hay, minerals, sherry vinegar almost balsamic, old earthy wet peat, dried red fruit develops slowly, green tobacco leaves and cigar leaves, smoked fishes, soot and white pepper. Very smooth

Palate: Tar, peat, Lapsang Souchong tea, white pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon, earthy peat is crispier here (comparing to the nose) and is well defined, salt and a touch of farm greenery.

Finish: Medium length, lingering wet peat, pepper and Lapsang Souchong tea, salty and mineraly.

Thoughts: Oh what a big start to The Duchess line up! Not a big peat monster after all those years and the saltiness and greenery makes it a tad different (and still good) Ardbeg. It’s an expensive whisky, yeah I know. This is what old and rare stuff costs nowadays (although my main gripe is with the lesser stuff that costs a leg and an arm.

(Official sample provided by The Best of Wines)

New Ardbeg is coming: Ardbeg Twenty Something 23 Year Old

Update: Ardbeg Twenty Something will be released on 2nd November 2017 for Ardbeg Committee members. Price tag: £430.

Seems like Ardbeg is preparing a new release for the rich among us. A new label shows they intend to release another whisky from the stock that was distilled prior to the current owners regime (with Ardbeg 21 being the first one). The label states it was bottled in 2017 after being aged for 23 years so it’s a 1993/1994 spirit distilled when Ardbeg was part of Allied distillers.

The label hints at a series of releases as the title is Ardbeg Twenty Something so we could (and probably will) see other future releases that carry 2x age statements.

Will it be released in time for the next month Feis Ile? Stay tuned.

Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release Review

So many words were written on Ardbeg and the annual Arbeg day releases. Seems like not all is OK in Ardbeg-land as there are dubious marketing failures, continued barrage of NAS releases when it’s mostly relatively young spirit in it and last years’ disappointing release of Perpetuum which for me was the low point of a too quiet 200th anniversary celebrations.

This year release is Ardeg Dark Cove and from the beginning we see marketing failure: Darkest Ardbeg ever? Seriously? All those 70’s releases aren’t counted in the list?

I felt that Ardbeg invincibility got cracked last year and hoped that Dark Cove (putting the brand marketing failure aside) will set them on the right track. Let’s check if it works or not as I review the Committee release with the higher ABV than the more general release.

Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release (55%)

Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee ReleaseNose: Classic Ardbeg peat and smoke, but not so ashy at first although this get rectified over time along with meat in sweet sauce and soot. Sweetness originating from the sherry casks – sweet red fruits, more fresh fruit than dried and with jammy edge. I quite like it as it’s not overpowering and there’s a good balance here. With water: sweeter with sherry notes taking the front seat. Continue reading

Ardbeg 21 Year Old – The Story of an Epic Marketing Faliure

The inevitable has happened and it seems finally that an aged Ardbeg release, at least according to the new label that popped up on the TTB site, will be on shelves later this year.

ardbeg 21 front

It’s been like forever since we saw a new age statement Ardbeg (especially if you exclude ardbog, aged 10yo but not it wasn’t mentioned on the label) and it makes me giddy with excitement and also fills me with dread from the expected price tag (which I bet will be around the £250-£300 mark).

If you put aside the excitement and the fact that most of us will not be able to afford a bottle and look deeper into this forthcoming release, a few interesting facts come up and one brow raising question should be ask. Continue reading

Whisky Review: Ardbeg Ardbog

Following a discussion on Facebook yesterday, I promised a review of Ardbeg Ardbog, the Ardbeg day release from 2013.

It’s a vatting of 10 yo Ardbeg spriti from Bourbon and manzanilla sherry casks and I think they got the balance here just right.

‎13000 bottles were produced and even now, 2.5 years after the release, there are still bottles available for purchase. I’m kinda surprised as I think it’s a good whisky!

Ardbeg Ardbog (52.1%, £125/£150/€139)

ardbeg ardbogNose: It’s not an aggressive nose with subtle earthy dry peat followed closely by sweet dry wine. in terms of smoke, it’s on the low side of the scale but it’s of the burnt down coals variant. Nice nose balancing nicely peat and sweet. Continue reading