Review: Ardbeg 17 year old

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


We're drifting back to the Ardbeg 17 year old here, a discontinued bottling that is widely respected. Today all we have for an age statement release is the consistently very good 10 year old. The remainder of the core range is made up of No Age Statement releases often assisted by an assortment of special one-off editions.

Ardbeg, or should that be Moet Hennessy? Has experienced considerable success bending time and lifting the age statement components from their portfolio. The 17 year old was only around as a release for 8 years or so before being deleted yet made a lasting impression on many whisky enthusiasts. 

The distillery itself was closed for periods during the 1980's and 1990's until resuming full production in 1997. This meant that for a short-time the 17 year old could exist and it's been well publicised it often contained whiskies of a much older vintage within the bottle. Ultimately you cannot cheat time although many of the current whisky producers try to do so! I'm sure Dr Bill Lumsden mentioned during his excellent presentation (which I recorded here) the 17 year old and the work that goes on to keep the 10 year old consistent. These may have been at the beginning that I failed to record.

Originally launched with a price of around £30, this bottle now fetches around £200 at auction. I've just realised I've never written any tasting notes for the 10 year old, which is a staple bottle at home so I'll put that right shortly.

Colour: tanned hide

Nose: not the huge nose I was expecting initially (especially peat), but its a mouse squeak despite allowing a little time to let it open up. Charcoal, pine cones, almonds, vanilla pod and eucalyptus. Not hugely encouraging so far.  

Taste: now this is more like it finally! Sweet peat, tar, cream soda and more vanilla. A touch of sherbet as well thrown into the mix. With water, well I wouldn't go there as its a fragile thing and becomes muted rather easily.

Overall I'd happily buy this at £30 but with the inflated auction price beyond £200 now I'll sit this Ardbeg out. In reality I'd rather save up for a Provenance bottling instead.

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