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Ardbeg on sherry cask? You do not see that often. This bottling was first presented at the Festival for Independent Bottlers in Belgium last May and was bottled exclusively for the organizer Jurgen’s Whiskyhuis. I tried it at the show and promptly my visit was over. Nothing was going to top this. Of course I took a sample with me to try it again in the serenity of my whisky basement to write full tasting notes.
Wonderfully sweet and sour nose on peat, green grapes, pineapple peel, citrus fruit (think lime) and even a leaf of mint. Then some cowhide shines through, which I have not yet found in Ardbeg. Banana appears, as do apple sauce and butter milk. The smokiness is somewhat subdued, as are the spices. This is a soft Ardbeg, but make no mistake! It is very complex and simply wonderful on the nose. If you add some water it also get something of plasticine, which sounds not as good as it smells.
On the palate – contrary to the nose – it is very spicy. Nutmeg, chili pepper, cinnamon. Then it becomes both salty and sweet. Salty as if from course sea salt – fleur de sel – and sweet as in yellow fruit in a stew. The smokiness develops nicely and puts the mouth ablaze. With water I get some more citrusy notes, but it also becomes sweeter.
Wonderfully long and warm finish on smoke, salt and sweet fruit.
Outstanding Ardbeg on sherry. I presume this was a refill cask, for the true Ardbeg character shines through beautifully. Available at Jurgen’s Whiskyhuis for around 300 EUR.