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Ardbeg 10 Year Old

The Spirit of Islay

7 2391

@OdysseusUnboundReview by @OdysseusUnbound

25th Oct 2017

0

  • Nose
    23
  • Taste
    23
  • Finish
    23
  • Balance
    22
  • Overall
    91

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

This is an abbreviated of a blog entry I will post tonight or tomorrow

According to their promotional materials, Ardbeg is as close to perfection as makes no difference. That's a bold claim. It's also similar to claims made by pretty much every scotch whisky distillery. I've often compared Ardbeg to Clubber Lang and Lagavulin to Rocky Balboa. This is obviously my completely subjective opinion, but if any scotch is going to knock Lagavulin out and claim the coveted "Joe's favourite scotch" title, it would likely be Ardbeg.

But I also find Ardbeg to remind me of the movie "The Big Lebowski". Like the Coen Brothers' cult classic, there's a lot more going on than it would appear at first glance (or first sip, as it were).

Tasting Notes

  • Nose (undiluted): Sweet vegetal peat, charcoal barbecue smoke, seaweed (iodine), brine, a light citrus note, there's another grassy note in there as well. This is a well-layered nose that develops as the whisky sits in the glass.
  • Palate (undiluted): mouth-coating, yet light and bright, but not thin or watery. Very balanced. No rough edges. You wouldn't guess this is 46% ABV. There's citrus, pear and a significant amount of malt/cereal sweetness under the big peat and smoke you expect from Ardbeg.
  • Finish: very long finish, cigar ash, dark roast coffee, licorice and a bit of pepper. I can taste Ardbeg for hours after I finish it, which, to me, is a wonderful bonus.

Adding water to Ardbeg Ten thrusts the iodine/seaweed and brine notes forward on the nose. It's like walking on a beach and smelling the remnants of a campfire. Delightful. The sweet malt notes and the pear flavours are also more apparent with some water added. Drinking Ardbeg is a gratifying experience with or without water. There's a lot more going on than smoke and peat.

Pouring a dram and taking that first sniff, you'd be forgiven for thinking peat and smoke was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But Ardbeg is not as it seems. It's bold and complex, yet not without subtlety. Much like the eponymous character in "The Big Lebowski" was not the self-made man he claimed to be, Ardbeg is not what it appears to be. It's much more.

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23 comments

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

@OdysseusUnbound Arbeg 10 is among my favorite whiskies when it is a good batch. The one I like have less vanilla and more mineral notes (among which you can count ashes). When it is a bit austere with brine, citrus, pebbles and ashes, I'm in heaven. To me it is then the Chablis of whisky.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

Nice review @OdysseusUnbound. I agree with you; this is a 90 pointer all day long and IMHO really the only Ardbeg one needs, although Uigeadail and Corryvreckan have their place in the cabinet. But the one I'm bunkering is this excellent 10 year old while it is still around.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Robert99 There is little to no vanilla in my current bottle of Ardbeg. Some minerality, for sure. I was surprised at the prominence of the malt note on the end of the palate/before the finish. Pleasantly surprised.

about one year ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@BlueNote: "while it is still around."

I've been saying things that too, lately—ever since An Oa came out. I'm a little worried about causing a panic wink , but I think we're right to be suspicious! At the least, we shouldn't take the Ten for granted. An age-stated modern classic for $45 a pop? That might not last forever!

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

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@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@MadSingleMalt I read something the other day that might assuage some worries. It appears as though Macallan will be discontinuing the Pole Dancer series (aka 1824 series) in Spring/Summer 2018. Maybe the “all NAS, all the time” craze is blowing over. It’s only personal experience, but it seems the Macallan Gold and Amber are always on sale WITH bonus air miles and there’s always a TON of inventory online and in store. Methinks it isn’t a great seller.

about one year ago 0

@nooch
nooch commented

@OdysseusUnbound #notworthit

I’d rather wait and buy Glenmorangie 18 for close to that at duty free.

about one year ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@nooch I’ve never been to a duty-free, nor am I likely to any time soon. I’m stuck with the KGBO and its prices.

about one year ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

The last time I left the country for any length of time was on my honeymoon in 2002. I’ve only gone to the US on day trips while visiting friends.

about one year ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@OdysseusUnbound I've heard the Sienna is decent, but way overpriced. It would be good news if the 12 sherry oak came back a t43 or 46% and a non-Macallan-like-price.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

I heard on CBC Radio the other day that pole dancing is being considered as an Olympic event. It will just be called "pole." Maybe Goldie and Amber and Sienna and Ruby will be on the team.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@BlueNote_ scary thought_ men's olympic pole...I miss ten pin bowling and softball already!!!!

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@paddockjudge Jeez, it hadn't even occurred to me that it might involve men. Eeeew! Maybe the venue will be set up like a sleazy bar. I'm just getting used to Beach volleyball.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@BlueNote They'd be on the Scottish National Team

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@BlueNote I had a work colleague who came very close to making the Canadian Olympic Beach Volleyball team.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

Yeah, I’ve made that very comment about Sienna. A good friend of mine is a Macallan nut. He convinced me to try the Sienna. I admit, I liked it, but I’d never pay $190 for it.

about one year ago 0

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

@OdysseusUnbound Your comment goes in the same direction others are going. The Ardbeg 10 is going back, to some extend, to its old style, which is a good thing IMHO. Maybe it's time to buy another bottle.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@65glenfarclas
65glenfarclas commented

@OdysseusUnbound Most distilleries have been producing at (near) full capacity over the last 6-10 years. It stands to reason that age statements will be making a comeback as some of that distillate reaches 12+ years of age. The difference between Macallan and Ardbeg, however, is the volume of production compared to sales: Mac has a capacity of 11.0 million liters vs 1.4 million for Ardbeg. Although Mac is a huge seller, I'm going to guess Ardbeg has been selling a higher proportion of production than Mac, thus stocks at Ardbeg are probably thinner than Mac - relatively speaking. My guess is Mac will come back with age statements a lot sooner than Ardbeg, or any other high demand/low production distillery (i.e. Kilchoman)

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@65glenfarclas It’s possible that I’m mistaken, but I get the impression that the 1824 series has been a huge flop.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@OdysseusUnbound If you are mistaken, then so are a lot of people...

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

“This is a very complicated whisky, Maude. You know, a lotta ins, a lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous.”

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

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