What can I say?
I love Ardbeg, I mean LOVE Ardbeg. It was my first Islay love and holds a special place in my heart due to that.
Don't get me wrong, I love all the Islay distilleries, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, Caol Ila, if it's got big smoke and peat, then I'm a happy man.
But like I said, Ardbeg holds a special spot in my heart.
So it's with great excitement that I look forward to Ardbeg Day every year. Every year on June 1st our whisky friends at Ardbeg make us happy campers by bottling a "special release"
Galileo which was released in 2012 was easily my favorite Ardbeg to date, and worth every single penny.
And then Ardbog came out, a whisky that I'll soon review, a year after it's release now that everyone and their mom have made up their minds regarding it.
And then just 26 days ago, June 1st, Ardbeg released Auriverdes, a special bottling celebrating the upcoming World Cup. The name in Portuguese means Golden (whisky) "Auri" in Green (bottle) "Verdes". Golden whisky in a green bottle.
It's aged in second fill American ex bourbon barrels, with heavy charring on the lids, designed to create a mocha flavor in the whisky.
In theory this release is around 6600 bottles from what I can find online, it was distilled in 2002, which puts it around 11 or 12 years old.
And rounding it all out, it retails for around $200 AUS.
My wife and I recently flew out to Whisky Live in Sydney Australia and while over there I visited quite a few bottleshops who are run by friends and acquaintances. While I was visiting the guys at the World of Whisky, they offered me a dram of the Ardbeg Auriverdes.
Let me at it!
Well first off it's a pale golden color and it's in a green bottle so it fulfills the name requirements right there.
The nose has heaps of vanilla, mocha, chocolate, citrus oranges, a little bit of bbq meat, light peat and smoke.
Seriously is this Ardbeg? It is so very light. Not bad, but not what I expected!
Let's give it a taste and see what happens.
Vanilla again, lots of vanilla, mocha, mangoes and peaches, black pepper and light peat again.
A very soft, but lingering finish with more vanilla and then at the very end the vanilla fades leaving smoke behind.
Well how do I say this?
What the hell....seriously what the hell?!
People are running around losing their heads over this whisky and this, THIS is what they're going nuts for. A whisky that tops out at 12 years max, mild and inoffensive, that runs $200 or so a bottle?!
That's it, I've lost the plot. For the last two years all I hear from the whisky world is people bitching about no age statement whiskies, how they're going to be overpriced and under deliver and yet these same people are running around losing their heads over the newest and greatest Glenmorangie and Ardbeg release?!
I love Ardbeg, I cant stress that enough, and I enjoy Glenmorangie, but I've got to be honest, I'm tired of seeing whiskies that I know, KNOW, are 10 and 12 years old sell for $180 and $200 a bottle. Just because they've got a cool story behind it. I mean people complained about the Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix running at $100 a bottle here in Australia, but these same people have no problem throwing down $200 on a Ardbeg or Glenmorangie?!
Let's bring things back into perspective folks, shall we? No age statement whiskies can ROCK, the forementioned Snow Phoenix, Aberlour Abunadh, Ardbeg Corryvrackin, Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX etc, and I'm happy to throw down some serious cash on them as they can be absolutely brilliant, but what was different from all of those whiskies and this latest release from Ardbeg?
The price point! Most of those whiskies started out selling for $100 or thereabouts, and yes prices did rise over the following years. But they didnt start out selling for $200 a bottle.
Pardon me this rant, it's my birthday and I reckon I can get away with one naughty thing today, and I do expect to be shot and executed for taking this stance, but I for one am not on a boycott of them, but all of these newest Glenmorangies and Ardbegs that are overpriced and selling out in seconds as someone who was paid to gave another one of their whiskies World Best Whisky, well from here on out, I don't think I'll be buying any bottles of these whiskies without sampling them first.
If they're worth it, I'll happily pay every penny, however if it's overpriced mediocre whisky, I'll at least saved myself $200.