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Ardbeg had been very close to being buried next to Port Ellen and a few other legendary distilleries. The distillery had been mothballed twice in the eighties and nineties.
The real salvation came from Glenmorangie (now LVHM). Since the stills were reheated in 1997, Ardbeg's reputation soared like an eagle. Now fans nearly come to blows when they launch special or limited editions.
The core range is rather limited. The Ardbeg Ten is accompanied by two NAS expressions: Uigeagail and Corryvreckan. And that's about it. Every year on May 31th, Ardbeg Day, they launch a new limited edition. And since 2014 is all about the World Cup in Brazil it was named Auriverdes.
Tasting Notes Colour: Ardbeg Ten clearly matures exclusively in ex-bourbon casks. It is a light yellow whisky with a sticky texture. The tears slide gracefully down the glass.
Nose: Typical Ardbeg peat smoke (makes sense right?) pairs nicely with rubber and used bicycle tires. A sea breeze over the pier combined with sweet vanilla flavours and citrus zest. Further up are associations of tar, blown matches and chlorine. Water releases sweet aromas. Vanilla, black pudding with raisins and smoked bacon with a thin coat of maple syrup. Everything is garnished with some lemon marmalade.
Taste: The tongue undergoes a pleasant symbiosis of sweet and salt. Juicy pears with coarse sea salt, freshly picked mint, rosemary and vanilla. Towards the end the smoky and citric flavours return. Adding water to this Ardbeg means adding a little more richness: black pepper, roasted milk bread and grounded coffee.
Finish: The black pepper continues through the finish with some star anise. A relatively long finish.
Conclusion This was my very first peated whisky nearly two years ago. Saying I wasn't convinced was an understatement at the time. Right now it’ll be more something like “Bring it on !”. These kind of flavour bombs are the reason a (wo)man starts drinking whisky.
Ardbeg Ten can be found everywhere. Every supermarket with a decent range or nameworthy liquor store, has it in store. The price has, influenced by demand and duties, risen towards the € 50 mark.