Since I finally managed to post my short picture story about our brief visit to Ardbeg, here are some of my older reviews of their expressions.
I was always a bit skeptical about Ardbeg mainly because of their marketing, putting out mostly NAS whiskies and the combination of that with a rather self-assured fanbase. I always enjoyed their TEN but steered clear of the other releases, which in hindsight wasn’t my brightest thinking but, well, I was young and still believed in the romantic non-business side of Whisky. Using space as a warehouse didn’t really helped their case as did the rumors and reviews of their Pepetuum. So, I picked up a sample of their line-up here and there, but never really overcome my skepticism and tried any of them. And then the supernova came and blew all that away. It probably helped a lot that I had it as a blind sample so I wasn’t blinded by ignorance.
I did this side-by-side about two years ago for the community review of the Corry on r/scotch. I didn’t look at other reviews or older notes of mine and literally jotted down what came to my mind. I didn’t change the old reviews for this post but I will do a side by side of an older version of the TEN and a recent one soon.
Situation: On the sofa trying to catch up with the community review and listening to the Legend soundtrack.
Nose 10: Initial ash, then some smoke, bitter peat and a little rotten fruit note, some mineral as well as bourbon sweetness/brown sugar notes,
Nose Corry: Here the signature citrusy notes really show, cold campfire ash, a little more citrus fruits as well as a little less bitter then the 10, wet seagrass, smoked meat, maybe somewhere there is a pitch black, ages old, shriveled currant, also less of the sugary note the 10 had
Taste 10: Rather neutral intro, it takes some time to arrive but then it hits big with ash, brown sugar, also hidden dark fruits with some citrus notes as well as some minerals, a little tangy, oily mouthfeel,
Finish 10: Peat, white peppery bites every now and then, dark coffee and a little dark chocolate, some oak, smoked meat
Taste Corry: Wait what? Thick sweet syrupy entry? Nice. Then white pepper hits. Dark chocolate, very dark indeed, Mocca, peat, but close to no smoke before the finish hits you. A little medicinal and no citrus note here. Vanilla. That one currant from the nose is rotting a bit. Very nice but a bit bland taste. The mouthfeel is not as oily I expected after the 10.
Finish Corry: Uh, here comes the good part!
Very well executed Close to perfect cask strength Islay finish! Wow, I didn’t expect this after the palate. Dry smoke, chocolate/mocha, white pepper in combination with the sweetness of the palate. Licorice. Smoked but not very spicy meat. By far the best part!
On some days I like the Ardbeg 10 more on others a little less. Sometimes I feel like the Ardbeg smoke has a “clean smoke” taste to it, maybe the combination of the “ashy” taste and the abv?, which I can’t really explain, but for me that was always significant of the Ardbeg 10. That didn’t really show tonight, which is a tad bit strange. All in all I like this a tiny wee bit less then Caol Ila 12, Laphroiag 10 or Talisker 10 which are all very comparable to this dram, even though every one of them has their very own distinctive characteristics. That being said, this is still a very nice dram.
The Corry was different then I expected, the syrupy entry of the palate took me by surprise and I really liked that. Sadly, I found that the rest of the palate was a wee bit boring and, kind of, just another Islay. Still I love that but I expected a bit more. The finish though…wow. That was incredibly well executed. For me, this could be great if the parts where more connected and there was more substance to the palate. This feels not aggressively young but I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the casks used end up in the five year old range. I also wonder if there is any Sherry in the vatting…[Note from your two year older You, there are rumors that some wine casks went into it but there never was a confirmation, Ardbeg, however, states that they use “French Oak” casks for the Corry – whatever that tells you]