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Airigh Nam Beist was first sold in 2006 and was bottled over two more subsequent years. Its name is Gaelic for “shelter of the beast". This review refers to the 2007 release, a 17-year old whisky matured mostly in ex-Bourbon casks.
The nose delivers a powerful impact: it is intense with tar, salt, brine and coal ash. As was to be expected there also is a lot of smoke but rather decent and soft. With water the smoke becomes even lighter while vanilla and lemon notes appear as well as a malty sweetness. I must say that this is a great nose, smoky on the one hand but with a sweet and fruity element on the other hand.
The palate is medium-bodied and smooth but quite spicy. There is less smoke than what the nose suggested, more like a bonfire smokiness, soft and subdued. At the end I detected coffee and chocolate.
The finish is quite long and warming. The smoke is now much more pronounced. With water the smoke becomes more subdued and oily like smoked salmon.
I loved this Ardbeg. It has the intensity that I would expect from an older release but at the same time it surprised with its malty sweetness and perfect balance. Too bad that this has now become rare.