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This is from one of the first Corry batches (not the Committee release) to hit the USA. I opened 12/25/2009; re-bottled 11/2/2012 . . . yes . . . really that long. Most of the time the bottle was over ¾ full. I decanted it into a 200mL bottle. Tonight’s tasting (9/16/2013) is from this 200mL bottle that is now half full.
Nose: Lemon and sea salt greet the nose. For a moment it is all light and high tones. And now the plunge into the depths . . . formaldehyde gives way to leather and then deep rich earth with tons of moss. This is ancient stuff here! Peat bog mixed with wood . . . now more oak is emerging with tons of spices. I really can tell the impact that European oak brings: spice and no vanilla! Now, a turn to musty old books, diesel smoke in the background, and other Ardbeggy type notes. Not terrible sweet. After nosing the L11 I get a ton of dark bittersweet chocolate. This is most certainly a deep baritone note. Now a whiff of lovely pipe smoke (perhaps a cigar?) and then some pine needles. Every time I come back to this guy there is something different. I would summarize this as a nice balance of formaldehyde, earth, spice, lemon, peat bog, with hints of diesel and bittersweet coco.
Taste: Lovely peat, sea salt, burning logs, salt lick, and rosemary rub.
Finish: Big wave followed by that huge Ardbeg intake of breath . . . now the tidal wave of Ardbeg power! Awesome power and face decimation. Waves rolling in of peat fire, soaked moss covered logs, oaken furniture, leather, moss, peat . . . amazingly big and lovely.
Balance, Complexity: Far more balanced then the fresh L11, and it has an edge in complexity here as well. The balance of the lemon, spice wood, peat, sweat, and earth was amazing. Much better then the L11. I loved the interplay of the rich earth, the moss, the peat, and the diesel with the hints of sour, bittersweet coco and formaldehyde.
Aesthetic experience: This is a fantastic bottle. LOVE the near British 100 proof (technically 57.15) at 57.1%. This is probably my ideal ABV for Ardbeg (mainly because it doesn’t come at 70%!) My only dislike is the lack of symmetry on the label (where the whirlpool drags the ship, name, and boarder off the side. I just prefer the Uigeadail label more.