Ardbeg Uigeadail | 54.2% abv (108.4 Proof), $65.99/bottle (Local Liquor Store)
Color/Appearance: This whisky has a nice amber or above color. Non-chill filtered and without colorant, it attains this desirable look naturally through the inclusion of sherry casks. Packaging has that distinct Ardbeg modern style that lets you know right away this is going to be some deep stuff. Bottle gives little hint of what a beautiful whisky lurks inside.
Nose: Somehow this is the first bottle of scotch I ever purchased. I had read a lot of reviews and concluded that if I was going to get into Islay malts this one seemed to be universally highly regarded. I shook off warnings that this was not for beginners. Lets just say that when I poured it out for the first time and took a good long smell I was wondering if I had made a terrible mistake. Powerful smoke and my first whiffs of peat were so intense that I was floored. Right away I knew all of those descriptions of the medicinal band aid like smells of peat were true. Wow. My nose was so overcome with peat that I could not detect the sherry notes until the next day. Now to me their warm sweet notes sing clearly from the first sniff. There is a lot going on in this nose. Strong flavors of earth and smoke with lush sherry coating everything. This is glass of whisky that you can smell immediately across the room and are forewarned that taking a sip will most certainly challenge your palate as well. For the entire life of this bottle I would frequently open it up and quickly give myself an olfactory refresher. So nice.
Palate: A roaring campfire by the beach at night. Dried fruits and coffee. Charred oak mingled with sweet malt and red wine influences, a fine Barolo. This is cask-strength in intensity in the mouth as well. Power. Somehow deftly balanced, all of these strong elements each with their own clear pathway to shine.
Finish: Elegant and long. Again the power of this keeps the pedal to the metal as smoke, smoke and more smoke dissipate slowly.
Overall: An amazing bottle that every Islay whisky lover should own many times. This bottle was my first love and as I started to try more and more peated malts my appreciation of it only grew. Started fast and finished it even faster. Must order new bottle. My only feelings of negative relate to posts I see where old bottlings compared to new ones, finding the new ones somehow lacking. That saddens me some but I can’t live in the past and this is still a rocking bottle to enjoy right now. I would also love to know more about what mysterious mixture of whisky is inside this bottle. Is the young stock used here younger than the Ardbeg 10? How much of the older sherried stock is still around from pre-shutdown days? How long can they keep this wonderful expression up? Though I can easily put all those questions out of my mind when I am sitting down with a dram of this wonder.