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The Ardbeg 10 is an old friend that I have had a few bottles of over the years. It is one of those expressions that an Islay lover like me keeps around consistently in the cabinet. Partially because the pricetag is friendly enough that I can feel semi-comfortable putting it on a holiday gift list if/when someone asks.
I love my peat, and Ardbeg is never shy about it. This 10 Year is no exception. Most whiskies are chill-filtered and reduced to a strength of around 40% ABV. The Ardbeg Ten Years Old, however, is non chill-filtered and has a strength of 46% ABV.
The color of this Scotch is always surprising to me as it is so light. Even drinking it by candlelight, it is still bright like a white wine. Looks can be deceiving though…as this drink is no lightweight.
Nose: Peat and pungent smoke at first, a plume that needs to escape. The second whiff is where the ocean and sweetness come in. The sweet is tart like lemons. The briny oceanic tints nestle within the peat…think smoked salmon.
Palate: Sweet citrus up front, and crisp. Oily, with lots of seaweed and brine before the peat comes back for round two. The smoke is heavier this time, more tar-like. Somehow the whole experience is balanced and smooth despite the peat not being fully tamed.
Finish: Salty dryness. The finish is long, and the smoke smolders like a reluctant campfire that refuses to be snuffed out.
This is for a peat fan and I am an admitted member of the Ardbeg Committee, as I always have one on my shelf. Those that favor the sherried floral drams will likely be a little turned off at first. I always loved revisiting my Glencairn glass the next day with this one. I have intentionally left it out near the sink just so I can smell it the next morning, and the smokiness fills the kitchen. For an Islay fan I have to consider this one for the ‘bang for the buck’ list I will be putting together. But, I digress, the bottom line here is that it is spicy, sweet, and oh so smoky. If you can take a peaty punch in the chin, and can handle the distinctive Ardbeg smoke, you are going to like this one.