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Ardbeg 10 Year Old

Entry-Level Excellence

0 1395

@talexanderReview by @talexander

28th Aug 2013

0

  • Nose
    24
  • Taste
    24
  • Finish
    23
  • Balance
    24
  • Overall
    95

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Over the next while, interspersed with other reviews, I'll be revisiting some standard, entry-level single malt expressions that I haven't written on before (but that I've mostly tasted in bars, at parties, etc). Many of you may find this exercise boring but I find it very interesting; it's always good to revisit an old friend (or nemesis) with fresh eyes (or a fresh palate, as the case may be). In this case, we have one of my favourites.

Ardbeg 10 Year Old as been part of their stable for a very long time, but the current variant came out in 2008, ten years after Glenmorangie acquired the distillery. In other words, Dr. Bill had full control over this spirit.

The colour is an extremely pale yellow, like very weak tea. On the nose there is a liquorice sweetness, with tart green apples, tar, damp campfire, lemon/lime, and lots of briny sea spray. More peaty and robust with a drop of water. The complexity of the sweet/peat combination is astounding, especially in an entry-level expression such as this. I could nose this forever.

On the palate, there is more brine but again, it is surprisingly sweet and malty. Pears, bandages, more lemon/lime. Dried grasses in a field. Sardines on saltines. White pepper and a touch of mint. Water brings about a creamier mouthfeel and a bit more peat and spice. Wonderfully delicious.

On the finish there are deeper spices, and low waves of rolling peat smoke. This may very well be the greatest of all entry-level single malts, with complexity, vibrancy and excitement. It's too bad it is so expensive - in Ontario this is $100! - but I suppose this is now a luxury product, since being acquired by LVMH. FYI this is a huge Jim Murray favourite, scoring 97 and winning World Whisky of the Year in 2008. Knowing each and every one of you has tried this scotch, I hope I haven't bored you too much!

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13 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

What? No bottle code? How will we be able to tell the players without a progam? 700 or 750 ml?

5 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Wel excuuuuuuuse me! 750mL, bilingual English/French label for the Canadian market, bottle code L12 184 07 45 6ML.

5 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Thank you for the information, @talexander. How knows? We may one day get Ardbeg 10 batch comparison discussions in motion.

I knew that I risked marginalising my Ardbeg 10 yo review by labeling it as a 750 ml bottle (exiled to the colonies). I decided to take the chance.

5 years ago 0

@Nock
Nock commented

Thanks for the bottle code!! Avoid the L13 003 XX:XX 6ML.

5 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

I don't consider the 10 an entry level dram. It is craft presented at 46% with no evidence of caramel nor chill filtration -please correct me if I'm wrong - my bottle is still sealed, I tried a miniature I bought.

I agree it's one of the cheaper ones (except at the LCBO), and can be found for 30% less in other provinces, but from quality and "overpower a newbie palate" points of view I don't put it in the same category as Glenfiddich, glenlivet, or something of that nature.

5 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nozinan, I started to internally react the same way which you did when I read "entry-level" in the review. The words "entry-level" carry a lot of negative baggage around here on Connosr. In reading the review, however, together with the 95 point scoring, it seemed to me that @talexander is using the term descriptively and without a trace of negative connotation. Within the context of the Ardbeg distillery, the Ardbeg 10 year-old is indeed where one typically 'Enters' the world of their product line, because it is the least expensive and most available among their products.

'Entry-Level' is a descriptor which can be used not only as a patronising derision, even dismissal, but it can also very much be used in a descriptive non-connotative way, as, I would say, it is being used here.

5 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Note that the Ardbeg 10 (as with, I believe, all Ardbeg products) is non-chill-filtered. But it doesn't say non-coloured on the bottle...however, the very pale colour tells me that it is likely non-coloured and they just felt that they didn't need to advertise that.

Thank you @Victor - yes that was my point of calling it Entry-Level. And, as I often do, I was being a little cheeky, knowing that many connoisseurs might balk at my describing it as such! But yes, it is absolutely entry level Ardbeg, which puts it in the same general category as your Glenfiddichs and Glenlivets 12. You may not like my lumping those three together, but I know some discerning whisky connoisseurs who prefer those two Glens over Ardbeg. It's all a matter of taste.

5 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

i can accept that the 10 is an entry level for Ardbeg. But to say it's an entry level "scotch" suggests it's as simple as a glenlivet/fiddich 12, and that simply is not the case. It may be an entry level Ardbeg, but by price or flavour profile it is NOT an entry level scotch.

5 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Correct, @Nozinan - I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as their first single malt ever. I don't think anyone on this thread suggested it was an entry-level scotch, for the novice drinker.

5 years ago 0

@CanadianNinja
CanadianNinja commented

Loved this review talexander. The Ardbeg 10 is a dram that I loved the very first time I had it. It has recently become one that I consider a favorite. I've purchased many bottles of this during my whisky journey!

5 years ago 0

@Nock
Nock commented

@Nozinan, I respect and understand your view point, but I very much disagree. I have hosted a number of tastings for non-whisky drinking friends where I take them through 4 or 5 single malts. I always try and have several "accessible" drams (Glen "whatever") and a sherry matured whisky, and I usually always end with a peaty guy (like Ardbeg 10yo, Lagavulin 16yo or Laphroaig Quarter Cask). And I am always shocked at how many people prefer the peaty beast at the end over everything else. Truly, that was not my personal experience. BUT many people find the peat to their liking at their first go-round. And where I live Ardbeg 10yo is only a few dollars more then Glenfiddich (and cheaper then many other so called "entry level scotches." So I will always include it in a lineup for a new-to-whisky drinkers. You never know what they are going to connect with.

5 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

I've had the same experience as @Nock, only I may be taking the absolute noobies through 15 to 25 whiskies of all types and national origins on their introductory run. Some individuals are "That's ok" through everything until they have some Uigeadail or Airigh Nam Beist (or Thomas Handy, or George T. Stagg). Then they come alive. I have never held to the idea that anyone needs to start with the lesser-flavoured stuff. No one need enter the whisky portal through anyone else's idea of "Entry Level". There is always a process of self-discovery in the actual doing of the tasting...and that's why people should go out and taste a lot of whisk(e)y rather than just talk about it. There is no substitute for the actual experience of drinking and sniffing the whisky. The more whisky experience, the better.

5 years ago 0

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