A very chance to try a single cask, cask strength Ardbeg that has been labelled as such, this is a powerful, pungent expression from the famous Islay distillery.
This cask has been released by Iain Croucherâ€™s Glasgow-based independent bottler, North Star. This is part of their fourth series of releases.
This was distilled March 2005 and bottled February 2018 as a 12-year-old. It was matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead which yielded 332 bottles worldwide at 51.9%.
Ardbeg is one of Scotlandâ€™s most famous distilleries with one of the most intense cult followings in the industry. This 2005 vintage is part of the distilleryâ€™s modern era, which has seen consistent distilling and character moulding since Glenmorangie purchased it in 1997.
The distillery has appeared in independent bottlings, but almost never under its true name. This is a very rare example of an independent bottler being allowed to use the distilleryâ€™s name, and that is reflected in the price North Star had to pay to secure the barrel.
Quite a spirit driven Ardbeg, there are not the sweet cask influences we usually see on the official bottlings. Instead, this is a brash, intense expression that takes time and a willing palate to unravel. The benefits are evident to those who have both of those.
Official tasting notes:
Nose: Pungent peat and pineapple.
Palate: Salted smoke and black cherry tobacco.
Finish: Is there such a thing as sweet gunpowder?
Tasting notes by Serge at WhiskyFun.com:
This is clearly new regime Ardbeg, so this should be interesting. Weâ€™ve already tried these vintages but those were always bottled as â€˜Kildaltonâ€™, or any other fancy name, never as Ardbeg if I remember wellâ€¦
Nose: A working kiln, peat smoke, burning oak, dried kelp, a touch of tarmac but less than in earlier decades vintages, new bicycle inner tube (as long as some bicycles still have inner tubes), perhaps a wee touch of phosphorus, bone-dry artisan ciderâ€¦ With water: wash, damp textile, sourdough, bakerâ€™s yeast and leavenâ€¦ The caskâ€™s been pretty lazy, and that has been a blessing.
Palate: More extreme than I would have thought. Could you smoke a blend of grapefruit juice and ultra-ristretto coffee? It is extremely dry and bitter, and I really enjoy this. Noilly-Prat, Fernet-Branca, cold-distilled manzanilla (should anyone be crazy enough to do that)â€¦ With water: should you add enough water down to approx 15% vol., you would get manzanilla. Mustard, smoke, salt, seawater.
Finish: Very long, extremely sooty and ashy. Remember you just had the ashtray?
Comments: Extreme and good. So extremely good, but please do not try to pour this to total beginners
- Single Malt