News: Ardbeg 18 Year Old

Friday, October 05, 2012

Blink and you'll miss it. Earlier today, around lunchtime Master of Malt released their bottling of an Ardbeg cask they'd managed to acquire, somehow. This single cask release was limited to just 252 bottles and it sold out in under 2 hours. That's pretty spectacular for a 3rd party bottling.

Aged Ardbeg releases are incredibly rare. Ardbeg themselves no longer sell to independent bottlers and hold onto what little stock they have left to age. Such its is popularity and worldwide demand, they don't need to sell their casks. Apart from the standard Ardbeg 10 year old, or the odd special release without an age statement, we've been waiting since 1997 for older editions of Ardbeg.

One day I'm sure Ardbeg will plug that gap, but for those of us who desire older Ardbeg's after having our tastebuds transfixed by samples of releases such as the 1974, independent bottlers are the only option other than paying through the roof at auction. What was pleasing about this release include being bottled at a whopping cask strength (56.3%) and an ex-sherry refill hogshead.

This bottle offers us an affordable taste (marvellous price of £79.95) of an aged Ardbeg from 1993 prior to the distillery changing hands. So plaudits to Master of Malt for their price point and here's hoping they can turn up a few more special casks. For those of you who missed out, then they are still selling samples for £5.67. The tasting notes are very promising:


Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Aromas of waxy lemon peel, chilli powder, kippers and soap lead to sandy beaches, violets and firm but not aggressive peat, almost like the depths of a smoke-house. Then comes tropical fruits and oranges with a whiff of brandy soaked sweet mincemeat and candied citrus peels.
Palate: At first the palate is ashy and salty with a big kick of Ardbegian peat but then comes a minerality and a mouth-coating oiliness with deeper notes of oat cakes and dried currants.
Finish: Sooty charcoal, stewing citrus fruits, seashells and dark chocolate form a sustained finish with fresh mint imperial notes at the front of the mouth.
Overall: Are there words to do justice to a whisky like this? Probably not however I'll give it a shot. This Ardbeg combines all the peat you could want with such a delicate balance of flavours that just linger on the palate for hours after the glass is finished. Aside from the sheer complexity this rare whisky boasts, it maintains a dangerously drinkable quality which entices you to keep coming back to it. It is a true shame that this whisky is so limited.

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