A 13-year-old Ardbeg bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company.
This is Batch 9 that indie bottlers Boutique-y have sourced from the distillery, bottled at 50.4% with 266 bottles in the run.
One of Islay's best-loved distilleries, Ardbeg is extraordinarily rare outside of the official bottlings.
This was distilled in March 2005 and the cask disgorged in July 2018. The ex-bourbon hogshead was split into two batches, Batch 8 was an exclusive to Japan and Batch 9 to Australia.
A few cases of that release were found in a Singapore warehouse in 2020, which are now exclusively available through The Oak Barrel.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company have bottled most distilleries in Scotland and are increasingly expanding to include whiskies from around the world. Their limited edition labels are designed by Emily Chappell and reference interesting elements (or in-jokes) about the distillery.
Boutique-y bottle their batches, which can be single cask or a number of casks, at the strength they deem the whisky is most enjoyable at.
"One of the legendary Islay distilleries, Ardbeg holds a special place in the hearts of many whisky enthusiasts. A smoky, medicinal, slightly bacon-y place in their hearts, to be specific. Situated on the south coast of Islay, Ardbeg has been producing their distinctive style of single malt since 1815 using their glorious stills, which you can see on our Ardbeg labels! You can also see famous Ardbeg collector Geert Bero reaching up to the precious Spirit Purifier atop the still."
Tasting notes by The Oak Barrel:
Nose: Brooding and industrious, with crushed rock, slate and last night's embers making way for a touch of lemon zest and watermelon. That freshness is mild though, this aroma is more 'sticking your head up a chimney' with the sootiness it espouses.
Palate: Big smoke and soot, with an almost chilli spice on the palate. Broad again and mouth-coating, this is built more for January in the northern hemisphere, than the southern: warming, heady and enveloping. Although, if we do have the barbecue going this is more earthy and weighted than coastal and bright, so we're matching this with the steak rather than the oysters.
Finish: Good length, beyond medium. As the earthy peat begins to fade away a finer line of smoke rises and takes over the journey. Another good example of drink less, drink better, because you want to take your time as this washes over you.
Comment: It's just so rare to see Ardbeg outside of the 'official bottling' shackles and this is an excellent experience. It's certainly Ardbeg, but without any sort of wine cask treatment this feels heavier and more old-fashioned, not as bright and certainly thicker (thanks 50.4%) than some of the things they've been putting out recently. Not the one you want to grab first over lunch, this is the one you want to grab for the nightcap.
- Single Malt