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Ardbeg organises an Ardbeg Day on May 31th. The company launches a limited edition expression for the Festival of Malt and Music. True Ardbeggians will go and fetch it on the island itself during Feis Ile. Regular fans could score the 2013 edition rather easily in specialised liquor shops. If they were quick enough of course.
Last year's expression was a celebration to the peat bogs that are the very core of the Ardbeg flavour. Basically this was an Ardbeg 10 with a plus. The whisky was a marriage of spirit matured in bourbon and manzanilla sherry casks.
Tasting Notes Colour: This golden hued whisky translates stickyness to a delicious texture with nice slow tears along the glass.
Nose: Ardbeg wouldn't be Ardbeg without a decent dose of peat smoke. Forget about Blasda - everybody makes mistakes right? - for a moment. The first rendez-vous is sharp and stinging in the nose. Rock sugar, raisins and ripe bananas. And it continues with leather, mint, cinnamon biscuits and salted caramel. At the very end of the trip it treats you on a heap of wet clay soil.
Adding water enhances sweet and spicy flavours. Honey, vanilla, cinnamon and clove are the usual kitchen suspects.
Taste: On the palate Ardbog evolves like a whirlwind of salt and sweet. Salted caramel with roasted almonds and raisins. A fair share of toasted oak. Strong coffee with some whipped cream, caramel and grounded star anise. Eat this Starbucks!
Finish: The finish keeps the honey sweetness and combines it with pepper, warm pastis and coffee grounds.
Conclusion This limited Ardbeg was easily found in liquor shops. The initial price tag varied between € 80 and € 90. Not exactly cheap for a NAS (after reading the small print, it became clear it is ten years old) but still great value for your money.
The price was a small affair given the extortionate prices some shops are asking right now. You still find it, but now it will easily set you down € 160 for the very same product. Economic scarcity... and hype... and snobbishness at work.
In short: this Ardbeg is a very tasty dram, but became prohibitively expensive. Uigeadail is probably a better alternative.