Ardbeg is probably one of the most loved or hated distilleries on Islay, founded back in 1815 by John Macdougall, who sold it for the sum of £1800 in 1838 to Glasgow spirit merchant Thomas Buchanan.. In 1887 the distillery is recorded as producing 250,000 gallons ( 1.1 million litres) of spirit per year which made it the most productive distillery on Islay.
Jumping forward this once giant of Islay comes to a stop when in 1981 when the distillery closes, before Allied Lyon purchases the then owners Hiram Walker in 1987 and re opening the distillery a few years later..
Today Ardbeg is famed for its big, bold peaty flavours with fans of the distillery going into a frenzy whenever there is mention of a new release or festival or even if someone flushes the toilet in the visitor centre ( ok that part might be a little over the top ) we know when the festival is…
So when I received an email a wee while back about this release I thought I’d wait and see before either buying a bottle or trying to get a sample for review purposes.. It is said this release is in honour of all the legends surrounding the sea around the island and resembles the impressions of the aromas and flavours of the sea..
This review is not for the committee release but the generally available bottle. Bottled at 46%
Nose.. That typical Ardbeg peat smoke is there but feels a little more subdued than I expected, a salted caramel note appears with smouldering bonfires, burnt marshmallows and sharp orange peel. Dark chocolate aromas mingle with a little cinnamon, black pepper and cigar boxes, old dunnage warehouses and fusty old library books.
Palate.. The peat and smoke just coats the mouth giving an oily texture and ashy flavour with sweet bonfire toffee, toffee apples, vanilla and burnt sugar.. Again the dark chocolate shines through with salted caramel, burnt sugared almonds and a burnt, earthy potato skin type of flavour..
Finish.. Smoke infused oak all the way..
Thoughts.. If you like licking the smouldering bits of wood after the bonfire has subdued then pour a little honey on it and this is the dram for you.. It’s another typical beast from Ardbeg showing all those wonderful aromas and flavours we associate with this Islay distillery. If your not a peat head then stay clear of this.. otherwise you will be pulling some rather strange faces and muttering words like ” why the hell do people like this” and words deleted from the end of this sentence.. It is a true Islay whisky that is sure to be a big hit with Ardbeg lovers, so if you like this distillery then get on ya bike and buy a bottle or two..