Ardbeg – 10 Year Old – Single Malt Scotch Whisky | 46% (92 Proof) $39.99/sale (Here still a great price)
Color/Appearance: Boldly pale yellow and white wine like. Flat Prosecco. Certainly no colorant was used here and most certainly no sherry casks as well. This light looking, and unassuming spirit is housed in a dark foreboding and wonderfully interesting bottle. Ardbeg really has a super cohesive look that can’t be ignored. If the stuff in the bottle wasn’t so good maybe their look would come off as projecting, but their relative cult status is well deserved. A very distinctive and quintessentially Islay profile is backed up with some of the most boldly charismatic whiskies distilled today.
Nose: Smoky dark forest, iodine, tart citrus, tar, and early morning coastal mist. You step off your motorcycle into the rainy pothole filled parking lot of a backwater gas station. Moving into the florescent lit and grease stained interior, you approach the mechanic. Seeing you he digs into a rusted steel filing cabinet producing a worn leather jacket and a dusty whisky bottle, handing them to you…
Palate: …Up the craggy coast you sit underneath an old oak tree and open the bottle. Lemony gumdrops, and biscotti with thick peaty smoke coat your tongue. Strong broad strokes of peat, blend with an etherial floral sweetness that at times seem to be one. Here on the palate this whisky earns its fame. Surprising balance with gobs of sweet malt meeting the peaty intensity halfway. Not extremely complex with tons of exotic development but its appeal is so centered on the peat that your attention is focused right where this whisky excels.
Finish: Spicy, long and ashy with some faint smoke. Black pepper and incense in a lemon grove at night.
Overall: It may be a peaty one trick pony, but it sure is a great trick. This is a cornerstone of Islay peated single malts with bold unrestrained peat and smoke balanced perfectly with just enough sweetness. Have you really experienced Islay if you have not moved through a bottle of this? Ardbeg really has a nice profile that is instantly recognizable across their whole range. The only sad thing is that this might be the oldest current expression from Ardbeg. Maybe once the Uigeadail and Corryvreckan contained some older components but from all accounts that is no longer true. Not having any older expressions in their line up and charging a lot for no age statement whiskies does seem to hold Ardbeg back from the true greatness I know they are capable of. I really hope they are squirreling away barrels to someday release an 18 year old. They seem to be doing great with the lineup they have so there is not a lot of incentive to go that route, but one can dream. I do think that the Uigeadail and Corryvreckan are two of the greatest no age statement whiskies out there and as long as they can keep delivering such interesting peated single malts I will continue to buy them no matter the age.