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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.