The Ardbeg Committee – a worldwide free-to-join club of Ardbeg aficionados – gets its own yearly Committee Release. For 2020 it was this BlaaacK, a NAS release but at cask strength (for other mortals, there is a release at 46%). The malt was finished on New Zealand Pinot Noir wine casks. Interesting. I will put both edition of BlaaacK head-to-head.
The nose is very similar to the regular (46%) version – ashes, peat, rubber boots, ribs on the barbecue, nougat with hazelnuts and blackcurrants – but it is more spicy. Paprika, cardamom, cinnamon. It’s also a little more dirty, if you know what I mean. Wet charcoal, sniffing tobacco, a pickle in the sun and dried mandarin. Very interesting. While the typical Ardbeg DNA is prominent, but thanks to the Pinot Noir casks gets a lovely atypical sweet note.
I have the hardest time finding any difference in taste with the regular version. Creamy and sweet on dark fruit, but with lots of ashes and black pepper, big smoke that warms the mouth and then the sweet and sour citrus fruit that takes the reigns. A bit more spicy again. Next to paprika and cardamom I also get some green notes and some menthol that I can appreciate. Like I had a minty bubblegum in my mouth prior to tasting this Ardbeg.
The finish is long, spicy, warm and sooty, but the bitter note appears a bit earlier. The finish lasts a lot longer though, but that should not really come as a surprise.
How nice to discover and ‘special release’ Ardbeg that is also truly great. Funnily enough, I actually like the regular version – which you and I can buy for some 150 EUR – a little better.