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After galg's review of the Airigh Nam Beist the other day, I though while I was heading down to 'The Lark' to taste their wares, I would also see if they had a bottle lying around (they have a pretty big whisky collection on the shelves), and buy a glass. They did, so here were my notes:
The nose is warm, peaty and smoky, with notes of sea salt and a subtle maltiness. Not a very complex nose, but pleasant enough.
The taste is light, which is slightly surprising for a peaty smoky Islay malt. Once again there are sea salt notes, and after a second some caramel comes through as well. While all the elements of a good Islay dram are there, this seems just slightly disappointing.
The finish is long, smooth, with the smoke and peat slowly warming over the top of the caramel sweetness.
It's a fine dram, but it's like they took the formula for an Islay malt and reproduced it perfectly, but missed the key ingredient - character. All Islay malts are distinctive, and this feels like it is trying to blend into the background. Just like how hollywood take a style of movie, then make it formulaic, thereby killing off half the fun.
So, it's not on my wish-list, but certainly not bad by any means. It probably should be an 8.5, but it lost a half point because Ardbeg's should be better.