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Ardbeg Ardbog

Two Ardbegs and a Ten: Part 1 of 2

0 2276

@talexanderReview by @talexander

27th Nov 2015

0

  • Nose
    20
  • Taste
    20
  • Finish
    18
  • Balance
    18
  • Overall
    76

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I have a couple of Ardbegs kicking around that I haven't reviewed yet; not only am I going to take a look at each one individually, but I'll compare each of them to the standard Ardbeg 10 Year Old.

The Ardbog is Ardbeg's 2013 Ardbeg Day annual release. Some of the malt has been matured in ex-Manzanilla sherry casks, and at 52.1% I presume this is cask strength. Thanks to @Victor for helping me obtain this bottle.

The colour is a medium mahogany - the darkest Ardbeg I think I've ever seen. On the nose there is a complex interplay of sweet, savoury and smoky: bacon, salami, furniture polish, Christmas cake, tobacco, stewed prunes and baked apples. Dark chocolate. Burnt caramel and motor oil. A little bit herbal. Some water adds milk to the dark chocolate, and tames the nose. There is a lot going on here - sometimes it gels, sometimes it doesn't.

On the oily palate, things somewhat clash: peat, brine, rum-raisin, milk chocolate and old leather. Very fruity with plum, black cherry and dates. Nutty. Spicy with the high ABV; less so with water. I like many of the individual notes - it's rather mouth-watering and at times delicious - but it is constantly shifting and is woefully off-balance.

The finish is off-putting: cigar ash, sherry and spice with developing leather. This is such an interesting dram, with all sorts of flavours and aromas going on, but it is so all over the place, it's hard for me to really recommend it. Murkier than the 10 Year Old, it doesn't quite achieve that one's near-perfection. It has gotten some great reviews (Dave Broom scored it a 91 and was named Editor's Choice in Whisky Advocate) but, even as a die-hard Ardbeg lover, I find it too challenging.

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22 comments

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

Thanks @talexander. This one got mixed reviews from day 1. Glad now that I resisted the urge to pop the ridiculous price for it here in BC.

3 years ago 0

@Alexsweden
Alexsweden commented

Sounds like a winner to me!

Unfortunately it also seems near impossible to acquire

3 years ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

At 76 points? I don't call that a winner.

3 years ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@Alexsweden Perhaps you were referring to the Perpetuum which got a much better mark (88) from talexander?

3 years ago 0

@Alexsweden
Alexsweden commented

Actually I was referring to the tasting notes rather than the score. Sounds like a whisky I would enjoy, a winner for me.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

Yeah, I agree, it does sound better than the score indicates. Other reviewers have scored it much higher, but talexander is generally a very trustworthy taster. Maybe an off day for his taste buds, but he was obviously getting some discordant notes in the balance and finish. I'll definitely try it if I can get a taste without having to spring for the bottle. Cheers.

3 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Thanks @Alexsweden and @BlueNote for your comments. It's a great compliment when someone assesses whether or not they want to try something based on my tasting notes, rather than the score. That shows not only that they know what they like, but also that I've done a pretty good job describing what notes I got without letting my overall impression colour those notes in a negative light. It's all very subjective - so just because I don't like it doesn't mean you won't!

3 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

I'm with Alexsweden: This sounds tasty. Then again, I care naught for balance.

3 years ago 0

maltmate302 commented

OIJas wonderful statement 'I care naught for balance' . It means nothing to me either. My criteria is does it taste good or not.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@maltmate. Right on. That is indeed the single most important consideration for me too.

3 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

Balance to me seems like one of those things you detachedly appreciate in the abstract, like if you were looking at the whisky in an art museum. I don't drink whisky that way. I've never once used the word in a review.

3 years ago 0

@Alexsweden
Alexsweden commented

I try to ponder the balance when I review but as OlJas (and surely many more) I often prefer bold taste over balanced refinement.

3 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

For me, when flavours I enjoy clash together, the result is a murky mess that I really don't enjoy. So for me, balance is very important - it can elevate a good whisky into the sublime.

3 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

For me balance is whether the particular flavours mesh with the nose with each other and whether the overall experience is good. It's probably the least objective of the scores I give (none of which are objective...)

3 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

Talexander and Nozinan, based on your comments here, I wonder if "harmony" would be a good synonym for what you appreciate as "balance." If so, I'm with you a little more than if the idea is near-literal "balance."

3 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@OIJas, I guess I would use "harmony" and "balance" synonymously, though for some reason I prefer the word "balance".

3 years ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

Semantics aside, guys; either it tastes good or it doesn't, and to that end, balance or harmony is a significant factor. Your taste buds and your nose know, when it ain't working.

3 years ago 0

@thecyclingyogi
thecyclingyogi commented

i use the word "harmance", myself....

3 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

BlueNote, is your point that we shouldn't bother defining what "balance" means? If so, I disagree. This seems worthwhile.

For the first time—after reading an ungodly number of whisky reviews over the past ~5 years—I might finally understand why anyone would give a rat's behind about "balance." It's because they really mean "harmony."

Whether some insanely delicious flavor (say, wood smmoke) is "balanced" by something different seems irrelevant to me. However, the presence of other flavors that are in HARMONY with that woodsmoke, well, that's nice.

3 years ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@OlJas. I think I agree with talexander: harmony and balance are essentially interchangeable terms. I take it to mean that all the elements of taste and smell are, to one degree or another, in sync with each other.

3 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Old thread, my two cents on 'balance' and 'harmony', both of which I use with slightly different nuances: 'balance' seems to me more a static concept, looked at from one moment in time, whereas 'harmony' looks to me to be more of a dynamic moving of the flavours past one another.

I use 'balance' in the sequential review scoring as the one overall static descriptor, which is mostly outside of time and space, because it applies to all of the sequential stages of tasting. For me the sequential review framework is all about static snapshots in time at each of the tasting stages.

I do a non-sequential review also to emphasise the elements across time, or, the elements as they change in time. If you even hold in your mind the thought of the whisky across all of the tasting steps, you will inevitably have the memory of the entire tasting sequence flow through your mind as you do so.

Both snapshots and videos are useful.

2 years ago 0

Taco commented

I had a bottle I finally opened at a tasting 9 months ago. I was sue how it would go over, so I "pre-tested" it before we started. Wow! I thought it was phenomenally good! They need to reissue this formula occasionally. It was much better than the other Ardbeg Day releases I've had. Rich, full and complex. I slowly drank half drams till it was gone, and enjoyed every minute.

about one year ago 0

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