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Nose: on first approach I’m greeted by distinct notes of ripe cherries buoyed by a wisp of milkiness (akin to the breath of a baby after feeding). The nose develops with background hints of resin and menthol. After a while some mango joins in.
With the addition of water the milky notes subside and the ripe cherries are coated in caramelised sugar which soon morphs to sweet cured bacon on a barbecue. Finally some menthol and hint of peat smoke.
Palate: Rich and fruity with some powerful, and dry, woody flavours. Developing to a very enjoyable spicy bitterness in the mid palate. Finally some dry charcoal smoke. The maritime influence is restrained throughout with just a hint of saltiness and the peat taking a backseat to the fruit and spice.
Following the addition of water, the fruit becomes more pronounced producing some delightfully fizzy sensations on the tongue - like cherry candy. Drying out to that pleasing bitterness accompanied by some liquorice.
Finish: long and satisfying. Dry smoke, tar and spice.
Comments: a very satisfying Ardbeg, not my absolute favourite but certainly worth investigating.