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Ardbeg An Oa

"The baker's eating Kippers"

6 1184

@cricklewoodReview by @cricklewood

11th Nov 2018


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

This expression is the first to be added to Ardbeg's regular line-up in many years. A vatting of different cask types (ex-bourbon, virgin oak, px), all finished in Ardbeg's new European oak marrying tun.

It's received a fair bit of flack, let's see what the fuss is all about.

Nose: A hint of Ardbeg's coal and diesel smoke, then sweeter, cookie dough?Jordan almonds, vanilla, candied fennel seeds, menthol a bit of ginger. It's nice if a bit subdued.

Palate: Ashy right out of the gate,vanilla. prune sauce some cinnamon. It has some bite, soot, sweet dough, a tin of smoked herring being opened in a bakery. It's got many of the hallmarks of what makes Ardbeg good but pushed down by the oak.

Finish: Green branches, the astringent lemons show up late to the party. lots of oak, char, vanilla, loads of ginger, a tiny bit or earth.

It's not neutered like Laphroaig select but it is a more rounded version of the kildalton crusher. They've tamed the feisty young Ardbeg spirit, making it sweeter and smoothing over the mineral and maritime edge.

I don't hate this, it's well made and enjoyable but at a time when so much Scotch is being homogenized. I would prefer they embrace the challenging nature of their whisky rather blunt it.

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OdysseusUnbound commented

That last sentence...so much truth. And one that could be applied to many distilleries. Thanks for the review. Glad I didn’t drop $120 on a bottle of this.

30 days ago 3Who liked this?

BlueNote commented

Spot on review @cricklewood. I still prefer the cheaper 10 to this one. It's Ardbeg for people who don't like Ardbeg. I agree with @OdysseusUnbound, not worth the money for true Ardbeg fans.

27 days ago 3Who liked this?

cricklewood commented

@BlueNote, thanks for the kind words. I'm glad this hasn't bumped the 10's entry price point either. I'm just shocked after all these different yearly releases and experiments that this is what they add to their stable.

I also tried Grooves recently and while it was good, it failed to engage me.

27 days ago 2Who liked this?

OdysseusUnbound commented

@cricklewood I saw the Grooves in Edmonton and it was around $190. Hard no. Corryvreckan and Uigeadail were both cheaper. So were the Springbanks I ended up buying.

27 days ago 1Who liked this?

RikS commented

My experience with the An Oa, which I rather liked but don't go back to too often, was that it was a bit cramping and tight. Many of the elements I like in uigeadail were present and I do like the added sweetness to the Ardbeg profile, but it didn't give me at all that broad-spectrum relaxed and warming sensation of the uigeadail. That said, I found that with a wee bit of H2O, the An Oa 'opened up' its petals in a rather nice way... Not sure if you took yours neat, or also experimented with some water?

27 days ago 1Who liked this?

Robert99 commented

I was in Scotland last summer and went to Ardbeg distillery and have found that all the whiskies I was tasting were rough even at a low abv making me believe that they probably don’t put as much older whiskies in their standard offering as they used to do. Fortunately, we still have Corry and Uigie.

26 days ago 2Who liked this?

Robert99 commented

@cricklewood , @OdysseusUnbound Effectively, your last sentence is spot on. While reading your review, there was a point when I thought I was reading a review of a Longmorn... not exactly what you expect of an Ardbeg.

26 days ago 1Who liked this?

cricklewood commented

@RikS I actually thought of your review where you mentioned water being beneficial to this one.

I was at a store tasting and sample size being relatively small. I didn't take the chance with water.

As I said it's not a bad whisky, the quality is good, I just don't understand the need to dim the lights so to speak.

25 days ago 1Who liked this?

cricklewood commented

@Robert99 I feel like this might be the modus operandi of many of the distilleries. Why vat away older stocks into everyday expressions when you can release them at auction style prices.

Indeed the availability and stable quality of Corry and Oogie are a saving grace.

Longmorn can be pretty good, it's no Ardbeg though

25 days ago 1Who liked this?

RikS commented

@cricklewood I completely understand what you mean. It's a bit like (salesperson):

"if you want a robust smoke peaty Islay, we have the Ardbeg 10. Now, if you fancy this but with some more complex balancing sweetness and kick I introduce you to Uigeadail... Ah, so, you liked the non-sweet intensity of the 10, but the power of the Uigeadail? Good Sir, I present you Corryvreckan... Oh, you're pointing at that one... that's called An Oa, oh well... hmm... it's sweeter than the 10 but it ain't a Uigeadail, its a hair stronger than the 10, but it ain't a Corry... heck, waddaya-want-me-to-say!!?... everyone else is producing shed-loads of different expressions knowing that the fans will feel compelled to buy one of each, so why not us!?!?"

25 days ago 3Who liked this?

casualtorture commented

That last sentence should be "connosr quote of the year." Nice review.

25 days ago 0

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