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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 Auriverdes was released as limited edition for Ardbeg Day 2014. It was matured in American oak casks that came with specially toasted lids: one cask head was toasted lightly (to invoke vanilla flavours), the other one more dark (to invoke mocha coffee flavours). ‘Auriverde’ is a Portuguese term that describes the combination of ‘auri’ (meaning “golden”) and ‘verde’ (meaning “green”).
The nose is grassy and fruity. I got flavours of moss and wet grass, followed by rather light lemon and vanilla notes. Then there was soft peat smoke that developed into rich notes of tar and rubber tire. This is not Ardbeg’s boldest nose but it is complex and multifaceted.
The palate is full-bodied, spicy and intensely smoky. There now are distinct medicinal notes, accompanied by vanilla and lemon flavours. Towards the end coffee and leather make an appearance.
The finish is long and warming and dominated by ashy and tarry flavours. Some salt and lemon flavours round this off. A great finale to this whisky!
This year’s Ardbeg special release belongs to the better ones, in my opinion. I am not sure what exact effects the two different toasted lids were meant to have on the whisky, but the overall result is rather convincing. I especially liked the nose – that was less boastful than that of Ardbeg’s core range malts but that was satisfyingly complex – and the finish that ticked the right boxes. My expectations might not have been high but this one worked for me.