You have to admit it: Ardbeg has guts. For as long as I can remember the Ten was (and is!) the entry level malt – and a very good one too! An absolutely brilliant Ardbeg. And while they added the An Oa (a NAS release) to the core range only recently, it is now joined by one with an age statement… but a very young one, just 5 years. In traditional (is it?) Ardbeg Style, they gave it a resounding name: Wee Beastie. It’s a vatting of both bourbon and oloroso sherry casks and upon release it was priced between 35 and 45 EUR, but in some markets it was markedly more expensive.
It cannot hide it’s young age on the nose, but it does not suffer from any new make-y or other off notes. This is actually quite nice. The sweet and sour peat is unmistakable, but it does not yet make the malt medicinal. I’m surprised by the fact that this Ardbeg is very sweet. I get apples, overripe pears, banana, apricots, citrus, vanilla and caramel. A nice spiciness with cubeb pepper, aniseed and liquorice. After a few moments, it does turn somewhat maritime with a salty edge and some moss. This is young, but very pleasant and textbook Ardbeg.
The body is nicely oily indeed. And on the palate it shows its true colors. This is indeed Ardbeg pur sang: peaty, smoky, peppery, lots of citrus fruit, ashes and tar, smoked ham… but with a sweet twist that really entertains. Vanilla, milk chocolate, dessert wine. This is very quaffable. Good strength, by the way. This is a lovely dram.
The finish is not very long, but good: spicy of soft oak and sweet smoke. I think it would be unfair – and quite useless – to compare this Wee Beastie with the Ten, unless it’s only to calculate if you are getting value for money. It’s less balanced that the Ten, a bit more playful, but in my book a very good addition to the core range. This one gets to stay. By the way: a 3cl dram of this stuff is only 76 kilo calories. A banana is around 150. Choose wisely.