Dear God! There was some real old school magic going on at Ardbeg when they re-opened in 1997. I don't care how bad the economy how do you close down a distillery that produced spirit of this quality? Utter madness.
Well, thank you Glenmorangie for doing what you did.
Quick recap for the uninitiated. After Ardbeg opened it's doors in 1997 they, on their way to the standard 10, decided to release four committee only bottlings of the spirit on it's journey.
The first is called Very Young and is a six year old whisky. The second installment is called Still Young at eight years. The third Almost There at nine years. And finally the Renaissance which went on to become their standard 10 year old single malt.
The series is called Path to Peaty Maturity and you will seldom see the art of whisky making reaching such lofty heights. Almost flawlessly crafted these spirits are the reason people go bananas trying to get hold of each new Ardbeg.
It was a little over a year ago that I first tasted the Still Young and was suitably floored. And so last night I decided enough was enough and brought out my spare bottle of the Almost There to remind myself why this distillery is so close to my heart.
The spirit in my hand has been distilled in 1998 and bottled on February 27, 2007 at approximately nine years of age. The code on the bottle is L7 058 23:55 4ML and bottled at a cask strength of 54.1%
Nose: Tight citrus. Raw sugar. Tart lime. Black salt. Pineapple. A controlled peat. Milk chocolate. Cherries. Black licorice. Soot. Ash. All spice. It's a touch more savory than it's younger brother. That extra year of maturation shows. Such brilliantly balanced aromas. 24/25
Palate: Lemon tart. Spices. Vanilla. Oak. Bitter chocolate. All spice. Cumin. Lemon curd. Gets fruitier mid-palate. Cherries. Green apple. Pineapple. This one is gorgeously layered and the flavors keep swimming in and out of focus but stay within their family. 24/25
Finish: Insanely long. Oily. Lime. Lemon. Cumin powder. 24/25
Strength: Crisp. On point. Strong. Bold. Cask strength. Perfect. 25/25
Quality: Almost incomparable. Crafted by hand. Almost artisan. 24/25
Variety: Good old fashioned flavors come at you one after another. 23/25
Harmony: An essay in perfection. 25/25
Based on my scores I award this whisky 96.5 points
What a great review, @MaltActivist! I never got around to taste this one, I am afraid. I know the Renaissance quite well and still have got a bottle at home but it is not 90s material in my opinion. Glad that you enjoyed this one.
@Pierre_W thanks for stopping by. I'm afraid there is a little biasness in me when writing about old school Ardbegs and that's fine. I don't care. I just have a soft spot for traditional craft done right. Solid distillate. Quality casks. No mucking about with finishes and experimentations. No watering down to appease the weaklings.
Why is it so hard to re-create the magic is my question?