Next up is an Islay single malt from Ardbeg to finish the night.
A nice golden color and a bit of oiliness coats the sides of the glass. One whiff and I’m certain that this Islay and maybe more like Laphroaig than the Ardbeg Ten that I’m used to. Smoke, peat and a hint of iodine rise from the glass. Notes of honey, ginger, apple, straw, lemon and sea salt rise through the smoky vapors. Leaving it I disturbed for a bit allows me to gently inhale smells of grass and tobacco.
The flavors are delayed slightly and then mildly explode into honey, grapefruit, apple, orange, cherry, ginger, cocoa and white pepper and it’s all bathed in mild peat and smoke. The finish is more peat with a mildly leathery wood and mild spice as the salt and sweetness fades. It never reaches a dry mouthfeel, but the mild bitterness is evident. The fruity flavors in the midst of the smoke are lots of fun while the spices keep you attentive. I was expecting more of the oily iodine or sulphur characteristic of Laphroaig, but I don’t detect any… maybe just a hint after drinking several sips and only after the fruits and spices completely fade. No, this is a more refined yet bolder Ardbeg… much less sweetness than Ardbeg Ten with more tangy fruit.
This is a serious whisky that you can’t just casually enjoy. It forces you to engage it with some focus and the attention is well worth it. I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I do. It’s much better than Ardbeg Ten and probably my favorite Islay to date.