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Ardbeg 1999 Galileo 12 Year Old

Calming Curiosity

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@vanPeltReview by @vanPelt

26th Apr 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Nose: at first very soft but impressions of banana cream pie and macadamia nuts. If inhaled too deeply/quickly/fully, a sharp anise of pumpernickel. A few minutes, then pencil erasers join in, then the main theme of-- if you've ever had them-- dried pineapple crisps. Not much peat unless you're really looking for it. The final stage of lift-off brings some buttery saltiness. The anise keeps coming back at the end of the inhale. Overall surprisingly light. Eventually, the nose stabilizes to dried pineapple quickly followed by lemon pudding.

Palate: Salt right away, then cream caramel... and then those dried pineapples come back. The "pine" in the pineapple comes through like the bitter zest of a grapefruit. Through it all, a definite mineral character.

Finish: The pineapple transitions to dried apricot. Then the finish is fairly short and soft, and leaving an impression of lemon. (I think you can also find vague mango). When these subside, a very faint seaweed prompts you for the next sip.

I think some comparisons are warranted and expected. So, to contrast with some others I've reviewed: -Uigeadail (and other Ardbegs)-- Probably the malt most people are urged to compare with; but in fact the Galileo has little in common with its big-splash siblings. The others are much more peated, so the Galileo might even be considered delicate. If you accept that the Uigeadail is ash/vanilla/rose-cherry (and the Alligator leather/toffee/orange, and the Corryvreckan ash/salt/lemon), then in comparison the Galileo is chalk/lemon-cream/pineapple. The Galileo's taste is more focused at the roof of the mouth whereas the Uig feels more like a full mouth.

-Glenlivet 18-- Shares some of the tropical notes (especially at the start), but Galileo is less smooth and sweet, more complex and sharper in a challenging sense. -Wiser's Legacy-- Shares the lightness, grapefruit and (to a much less extent) anise notes, but Galileo is of course lacking the same extent of rye, is a little fuller with tropical and marsala notes, and also introduces mineral tones. -Laphroaig QC-- Shares the smoky citrus pudding effect, but Galileo is much less smoky/nutty and is lighter/more pineapple-y.

Finally, I think it best compares to...: -Bowmore 17-- Shares the pineapple levity, the extreme lightness of peat, and other features (degree of salt), but the Galileo has more of that chalky mineral taste and other challenging complexities like the anise. All considered, I would personally steer to the Bowmore, but the Galileo does keep expected standards.

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Jonathan commented

Thanks for this review! This whisky sounds quite complex. I haven't tasted the Galileo yet, but am a big fan of the big three (the 10, Uige and Corry). I find it interesting that you put the Galileo in a wider context beyond the typical Islay reference points, and especially with lighter, fruitier whiskies.

I now really want to try this, and there's a bottle sitting in a local liquor store within walking distance. This website is dangerous...

9 years ago 0

WhiskyBee commented

@vanPelt - Interesting that you rate the Galileo higher than the Corryvreckan. You might be in the minority, but your insights are detailed and your reasons are well-supported. I enjoyed all three of your excellent Ardbeg reviews.

@Jonathan - Dangerous? Oy, tell me about it! My cabinet's more than quadrupled in size since I joined Connosr. My wife still longs for the days when my whisky "collection" was a lone bottle of Johnnie Walker Black.

9 years ago 0

alteredstate commented

me too! Connosr has gotten me scared to open my credit card bills nowadays. vanPelt your comparison reviews are a tremendous help to those of us who are just entering into the ardbeg arena. great stuff. thanks!

9 years ago 0

vanPelt commented

@Jonathan @WhiskyBee @alteredstate - Thanks for the kind feedback; I try to write what I would want to know before buying, so I'm gratified if it helps-- or if it hurts?...(the wallet)

@WhiskyBee - Isn't it funny that I would be in the minority by placing the 2013 "World's Best Single Malt" (Whisky Mag.) higher? But I, too, was surprised when I learned of that award: It is a good malt, but I wouldn't think quite at the very top....

9 years ago 0

vanPelt commented

1/2 Year later: Galileo is actually smokier now, probably due to the warmer weather of summer (as I intended to test). I.e., that chalky (pencil-eraser) nose has a touch of ash in it (but is still creamy). The palate has also gained a touch of 'smoke'. The overall sensation is of pineapple & over-roasted macadamia nuts. These flavors are richer than I remember them a few months ago; I would give this a couple extra points now.

9 years ago 0

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