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Nose: Sweet maritime peat greets your nose. Wood chips and splinters, sea salt, seaweed, and wet rocks dominate the middle of the nose. After you get past the peat smoke you can pick up the citric lemon acid tinges to the whole. Definitely lemon zest mixed with maritime peat. It is an austere peat; not the deep complex peat of Lagavulin nor the muddy and iodine peat of Laphroaig. It makes you thing of old leather chairs, bits of wood by the fireplace, and a smoldering peat fire. This is a coastal boat trip with a peat fired engine. However, there is also a bit of that citrus lemon oil from the peel going on here. Light citrus hovers over the peat bog: lemon zest trimming the bog just like the golden celtic knot trims the dark label and bottle. Truly this smells like the bottle looks . . . love it! And the smoke . . . it undergirds everything here. You don’t even notice it because it is in the background. With water – more peat and lemon. Also there is a bit of chocolate that emerges. It actually took water rather well. I like it quite a bit. No change in score.
Taste: Light gold peat on the tongue. Semi-sweet peat with a notes of vanilla, sea salt, seaweed paper, and a hint of iodine on the back. There is lemon rind mixed with peat and a nice pinch of sea salt on top of a bead of cooked seaweed. Also, a hint of oak with plenty of smoke in the background. The slightly bitter earth balances nicely with the slightly sweet peat. = 5.5
Finish: Big Ardbeg intake of breath along with that searing hot salt water . . . but no big wave. Interesting. Big dollop of peat, moss, dark earth, tree bark, oak, and smoke. There is also plenty of that seaweed paper, spicy red pepper, and some of that lemon rind zing. Lovely and lingering.
Complexity, Balance: Very complex . . . for a 10yo. This does an amazing balance of the peat and the lemon, the maritime and the bonfire. The balance of sweet peat to sour citrus, bitter dark earth to spices; smoke to seaweed is amazing. It delivers what it promises on the nose. Really complex, refined and balanced on the nose. That alone gets it into a top running. It is a study in complexity and balance: it doesn’t seem like a peat bruiser a mouth destroyer, nor is it passive and gentile. It is everything I want in a single malt. The only thing keeping it from perfection in my book is that it lacks those extra crazy elements (like old Ardbegs, and Broras) that cause you to be amazed at its depth. Not quite there . . . but then it is only 10 years old . . . and for a 10yo it is amazing!
Aesthetic experience: Slightly more straw and lighter color then the L13 003. Love this bottle (and this batch). I love the label, the shape, the color, the ABV, the ncf, and the traditional “A.” If only I could find more bottles like this one!