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Distribution of ratings for this:
Nose: Like the Airigh Nam Beist, I find the nose on this quite understated. The sweet, creamy peat and the tobacco notes of the 10-year are all here, but significantly muted by the wine. That said, even the wine note isn't all that assertive. Getting fleeting citrus notes, as well as a really crisp seaside note, hints of leather and whiffs of baked peach cobbler.
Taste: A really unique heavy salty-sweetness right off the top. Honeyed ham, salted caramel and perhaps over-ripe banana? Sweetness relinquishes dominance quite quickly and lets the peat, smoke and salt through in a dense wave. A surprising amount of brine takes hold of your tongue with this Ardbeg--perhaps too much for some tastes. I, however, quite enjoy it and like that this whisky keeps you on your toes with a triple attack of sweet, smoke and salt.
Finish: Medium-Long. The brine notes hold on longest through the finish and remain in the foreground, while the smoke and peat recede. Finish is surprisingly savoury considering the promise of sweetness suggested by the nose and first moments of the taste, although there are faint whispers of chocolate and dried fruit near the end, as the briney notes mellow.
If you like graceful, integrated whiskies. This might not be for you. But, personally, I like that it has a bit of a multiple personality disorder. What it lacks in integration it makes up for with character. I also suspect this is the kind of whiskey that really finds its voice when the bottle is about half full, so while I think this is currently sitting just shy of a 90 for marks. I'm going to round up based on this prospect, and the fact that I'm on a bit of a salty whisky kick right now.