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Ardbeg 10 Year Old

Missing the usual Ardbeg brilliance

0 683

@Pierre_WReview by @Pierre_W

1st Jun 2014

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
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Ardbeg is undoubtedly one of the most well-known and beloved malt whisky distilleries in the world. Founded by Alexander Stewart, Ardbeg’s first record as a distillery dates back to 1794, and commercial production began in 1815. During its long history the distillery was closed down on a number of occasions only to be reopened again by new owners each time. After having been mothballed in 1981 the distillery resumed production in 1989 and continued at a low level through to July 1996 when it closed again until the following year. In 1997 Ardbeg distillery was acquired by Glenmorangie plc (who shortly thereafter were taken over by Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) and production resumed. The 10-year old expression was introduced in 2000 and has been part of Ardbeg’s core range ever since. Here is the label code, especially for Nock: L14 014 07:01 6ML.

The nose is crisp, fresh, salty and lightly smoky. There are plenty of vanilla flavours, together with milky cereal sweetness, brine and hints of lemon.

The palate is medium-bodied and just a tad peppery. Lemon, vanilla and salt are at the forefront, until a wave of soft smoke rolls over the tongue. Towards the end distinctly sweet elements such as liquorice and dried fruits emerge.

The finish is of medium length, smoky and salty. Smokiness and sweetness are well balanced, with cereal flavours and hints of liquorice making a final appearance.

I am a big fan of Ardbeg and I do like almost all expressions, be it the assertive Corryvreckan, the lush Uigeadail, the seductive Airigh Nam Beist – you name it. However, the 10-year old expression lacks the complexity that all of the above-mentioned come with. Is it fresh and fruity? Yes. Is it nicely smoky? Yes. But that is about it. Somehow I would have expected a little bit more depth and character.

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6 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@Pierre_W, thanks for your nice review. I am glad that you provided the bottle code, and I hope that @Nock has some observations to make. I have to say, with these Ardbegs, especially, if you are not drinking from the same batch, you really aren't drinking the same whisky as the next person giving a review. I've only owned one bottle of Ardbeg 10, and had not until very recently ever sampled from any other. My bottle tasted fantastic, so that was my impression of Ardbeg 10. Recently @Nock tried some of my bottle of Ardbeg 10 and, if I remember correctly, said he thought it was the best batch of Ardbeg 10 he had ever tried. That bottle came from batch L 10 152--bottled one day after my favourite batch of Uigeadail.

So, when I think of Ardbeg 10 I think of L 10 152, but, of course, there are many other batches of Ardbeg 10 also in existence, which are different and which I have not sampled.

5 years ago 0

@Pierre_W
Pierre_W commented

@Victor, thank you for an informative comment. I have to admit that this was my first ever bottle of the 10yo, so I cannot tell how this might have tasted like a couple of years ago. However, it remains interesting (and puzzling) to see how big the variance can be between batches.

5 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

I am sure that it is a horrific dilemma for a distillery in times of great demand for product such as now, to decide what to do about inferior casks and scarce supplies of the well-aged whisky. No doubt they try to keep the quality top-notch, but that may not always be possible, given the logistical constraints of the situation. I expect that most of the time they rely upon clever blending to attempt to achieve a good overall effect. Sometimes it may work, and other times shortcomings of the stock may be noticeable.

5 years ago 0

@Pierre_W
Pierre_W commented

A succinct analysis that is, @Victor. I am sure that what you have described is at the heart of the issue. These are indeed challenging times for the whisky industry in general and for popular distilleries in particular. One might think that the biggest challenge for a distillery lies at the very beginning when, after inception, the long 10-year wait for a decently matured single malt begins. But, no, success brings equally challenging situations with it.

5 years ago 0

@NAV26
NAV26 commented

@Pierre_W, thanks ToR the concise review.

@Victor and @Pierre_W, I was able to find a case of Ardbeg 10 L6 150 in Yaounde yesterday. I am guessing it has been sitting here with no one knowing any better for at least 6 years. I found bottles of this batch here last December and thought it was very good and complex with nice camphor/resins so I bought 3 more. I had a bottle of Uigeadail L10 150 and it was one of my favorite bottles ever, I am hoping the bottle of L10 148 I have tucked away will be as good. I am not as convinced with Ardbeg OB's I have tasted post 2012

5 years ago 0

@Nock
Nock commented

@Pierre_W thanks for the review and bottle code! It is always extremely helpful. @Victor is correct that batch L10 150 is without question one of the best (and biggest) batches of the TEN I have tasted.

@NAV26 my very strong expectation is that your bottle of L10 148 is from the same batch as L10 150. Basically, it was bottled two days later. My understanding is that they create a vatting and slowly bottle it from several days to several weeks. In some cases the vatted liquid can sit there for a month or two before it is all bottled. I have some Ardbeg bottles that are off by a day but are still the exact same liquid.

5 years ago 0

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