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Ardbeg is undoubtedly one of the most well-known and beloved malt whisky distilleries in the world. Founded by Alexander Stewart, Ardbeg’s first record as a distillery dates back to 1794, and commercial production began in 1815. During its long history the distillery was closed down on a number of occasions only to be reopened again by new owners each time. After having been mothballed in 1981 the distillery resumed production in 1989 and continued at a low level through to July 1996 when it closed again until the following year. In 1997 Ardbeg distillery was acquired by Glenmorangie plc (who shortly thereafter were taken over by Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) and production resumed. Ardbeg Ardbog was released in 2013 as a limited edition 10-year old. It was matured in ex-Bourbon American oak casks and ex- Manzanilla sherry butts.
The nose is smoky and fruity. Smoked ham and brine are followed by bananas, lemons and caramel. After a while there are hints of milk and notes of grass. The smoke goes very well together with the salty notes – well done!
The palate is full-bodied and both peppery and oily. There is distinct smoke that is matched by apples and lemons. After the initial peppery outburst a tannic dryness creeps in. Adding water makes the palate more acidic, with balsamic vinegar getting the upper hand.
The finish is long, peppery and pleasantly warming. Also, the same tannic dryness that was apparent on the palate is present here, too. Wow, this is very dry! Finally, smoky and earthy notes have the last say.
I tried Ardbog on Ardbeg Day and at first was not too impressed, but letting it breathe a bit has certainly helped. While I absolutely loved the nose and the palate, the finish was a tad too dry for my liking. Also, adding water does not do this much good. Overall, from my perspective this is not as sweet as Galileo and not as well balanced as Alligator, but just in between the two, so in other words it worked well enough for me.