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. The latter strangely never being released as a full bottle.
You can find reviews of the TEN and the Oogie here and here with their respective recent bottlings. The 17 however has only been bottled from 1997 to 2004 and hence there is nothing recent to compare it to.
This mini has the code L1 200 0952 5ML (and comes in the wonderful G1 bottling code) which means that this mini was bottled in the year 2001 which again means that this is older than the age stated 17 years as Ardbeg was closed from March 25th 1981 to 1989. From 89 till 95 Ardbeg was only working for two month a year. The distillery was then closed in 1996 by Allied-Domecq and a year later bought by Glenmorangie who started mashing in June…so the casks used for this vatting had to be at least 20 years old. Nice!
For more background and history stuff check the Ardbeg project their site is fantastic!
Ardbeg | 17 | 17 years old (well, at least…) | 40% | Bourbon Barrel
Situation: Sitting on the sofa, listening to Bruce Springsteen’s underrated Human touch album. Favorite song? Glad you ask! It’s “With every Wish”…
Nose: Oh nice, rather fragile and coy, quite fruity:a very ripe watermelon, nectarines and oranges as well a a basket of other tropical fruits with a citrus influence, vanilla, musty like old leather bound books on a dusty shelf, sweet peat but not much, a bit soapy or rather ginger, all accompanied by a light smoke note
Taste: Soft and creamy vanilla entry, then oak, now enter unobtrusive smoke and some peat, ground coffee, bitter wood,malty, chocolate, some salt at the end of the palate slightly oily mouthfeel
Finish: Nice dark espresso and chocolate finish, quite drying, some salt, light (coffee?!?) peat and smoke. Due to the abv this lacks a wee bit of power but it still punches way above its 40%. A nice velvet/oily mouthfeel. Good god this must be incredible good at 50%, it still is a very remarkable finish
Conclusion: The nose is quite subtle but very nice, the palate is a wee bit too weak but still shows up big for 40% with strong oak notes and some hints of the fantastic chocolate espresso finish already show, the finish then is fantastic. I can only dream how this would be at, say, 48% or more.
Oh well, it doesn’t get anymore common place in whisky than this but: this would be mind blowing at cask strength and boy, I need more 70s Ardbeg in my live. Do you think what I’m askin’s too much?