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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 Corryvreckan was released in 2008 and is named after the world’s second largest whirlpool, located between the islands of Jura and Scarba.
The nose is surprisingly delicate and full of fruity flavours, mostly lemon and oranges. Then come smoked ham and tar, followed by peaty notes. With water the nose gets even fruitier, with bitter chocolate also making an appearance.
The palate takes center stage with a bang! It is full-bodied and rich, virtually coating the tongue in salt and earth. It is also quite peppery, which is hardly astonishing given the high ABV. Again there are lemon and oranges. With water the earthy element becomes more pronounced, and coal smoke is released, followed by more lemon and oranges.
The finish is very long, very dry, as well as peaty and peppery. In addition some brine has now sneaked in, everything being well balanced. A terrific finish! Adding water subdues all elements a bit.
This is my favourite Ardbeg expression! I simply love how it starts with a delicate nose, luring me into a relaxing drinking experience, and then strikes hard with its mighty palate. I can virtually taste the earth, salt and peat in this palate – fantastic! Given the high ABV you might think that this is best enjoyed with a drop of water but in my experience the water subdues all the fun elements, which is why I prefer the charming abrasiveness of the full-strength Corryvreckan.