Ardbeg Uigeadail now (2015) and then (2005)

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Info: In my post about our brief visit to the distillery I included a couple of pieces of Ardbeg history as it might be handy later. Well, later is now. Due to a friendly challenge to not only find old Ardbeg but quite specifically a 1981 Kildalton, I had to chase down one of the The Story of Peat packs which Ardbeg released in 2005 for…19.99 pounds. Well, times changed, didn’t they? The Story of Peat includes a TEN, an Uigeadail, an Ardbeg 17 as well as the desired Kildalton 1981.
Anyway, after the TEN which I had side by side with a recent bottling here, let’s have a go at the Oogie. This mini has the code L5 300 149 5ML which means that this mini was bottled in the year 2005.  

My recent bottling has been open for about a year and has the code L 63207 29/09/2015 1500945 15:07 and hence was bottled in 2015. Since the Uigeadail doesn’t carry an agestatement, we don’t know when or what or how.  Rumour is that this is 90% Bourbon cask and 10% Sherry, the most famous batch of the Uigeadail is the „Canadian“ (L7 325) which this is not. If you don’t know about all the noise about the 2009 whisky of the year, click here .

Also, did you know that Uigeadail means „dark and mysterious place“, well now you know and so you can say that the dark cove is an Uigeadail – if you want to.

For more background and history stuff also check the rest of the Ardbeg project their site is fantastic!

Situation: Sitting on the sofa with my very pregnant wife by my side, who just poured and shuffled the Oogies, listening to Bruce’s Storyteller DVD, which to be honest, is a bit too slow and blahblahblah for me right now but than again I’m too lazy to change it.

Oogie 1
Nose: Oogie! Red berries, smoke, peat, some rubber boots, some black earth and chocolate notes, some vanilla notes and nuts = Oloroso and Bourbon Casks. I suspect this is my big bottle as this seems a bit flat and tired.

Taste: Oily, powerful, white pepper, brown sugar and vanilla, chocolate and red berries, peat, some sulphur cigarette smoke and brine, minor oak influence.
Finish: Long, dark chocolate, red berries, peat, salt, some drying oaks.

Conclusion: Yeah, good stuff. I think this would be my big bottle, as it seems just a wee bit deflated. Still, good stuff. I wouldn’t go as high scoring wise as I did two years ago (link) but still a pretty solid A list malt.

Score: A- 90/100

Oogie 2

Nose: Rotten fruits, wet cardboard, dirty sulphuric notes, if this was totally blind I would say Ledaig (as this combination is my stereotypical Ledaig note, though I have to be honest, it is totally just a prejudice and I had many a Ledaig I like even nose-wise!), behind that lay the red berries, peat, grounded coffee and chocoalte. Nice wet black earth is there as well. So basically this is a more sulphuric Oogie nose but beside that it’s pretty, pretty similar l to the other one.

Taste: Uh, nice creamy entry, brown sugar, peat, cigarette smoke, some oak, dark black coffee, vanilla, sugared red fruits quite brine-y with some/white pepper ,

Finish: A bit more aggressive than Oogie 1 but I guess that’s due to my bottle being open a bit longer. Chocolate, brine, wet cardboard, surprisingly drying, salt, rubber, red berries, dark coffee.

Conclusion: Similar enough, this had a wee bit more oily mouthfeel and some more wood influence, I guess this is the older bottling but have to say that they are far from being very different or that the quality declined,

I have to say though that this one feels a bit more oily and creamy, but overall I couldn’t confidently say this is the older bottling or the first one. But since I have to say something, I would say that this is the older bottle because the other one felt a bit flatter and exhausted than this one but that’s about it.

I would rate this just a wee bit lower than the Oogie 1, I can’t really put my finger down to why but I liked the first one a wee bit better.

Thus whether or not this was bottled in 2005 or ten years later, this is a quality bottling no matter what, decent strength, nice vatting of bourbon and Sherry, hard if not impossible to beat price/quality ratio, what’s not to love? I know, I scored this a straight A two years ago, but I wouldn’t go that far these days, still a very good malt and if you factor in its price, strength and how readily this is available, insanely good. I’m not really excited to see which is which but now I really want to taste some of the very early releases of this beauty of an Islay whisky…

Score: B+ 89/100

Reveal: HA! Turned out, I was wrong! All the flatness I associated with my bottle being opened for a few years and all is actually due to the bottle being bottled twelve years ago. Wow, chapeau Ardbeg! Beside all that talk that the quality declined and all, the Oogie from then tastes pretty much the same as today’s Oogie.

Of course you can argue that the recent bottling which was the second one in this side by side shows a bit more youngish notes (aggressive, wet cardboard) but than again you may say that the older one is smother and hence more, well, boring…I actually scored the older bottling one point higher and while finishing the last drops, I have to say that I indeed like it a bit more but only a wee bit. But I already did that while I thought that it was the more recent bottling…for what ever that’s worth.

So after I knew which one was what, the more recent one felt a bit more unstable and the older one a bit more creamy. But than again, that wasn’t the case when I had them blind so I guess it’s only in my head. Still, I can see why people would say that the quality dropped and all that, based on that they want that to be true. Taste is influenced by so many different things, especially your head and you can get hung up on ideas so easily (as is evident by yours truly trying to outsmart himself every time he touches a mystery sample…) and I’m pretty sure that I would have liked the older bottling much more if I had known what was what and all the noise around it. Blind, I liked the older one just a wee bit more but I’m sure that would’ve projected itself into a bigger difference if I knew it was the older bottling of which everyone knows it was sooo much better. Cheers!

Other Ardbeg reviews: here Our visit to the distillery: here
Other whiskies with the same score: 89 90

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