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Ardbeg Drum

From Renaissance to Carnivalesque

8 1077

@cricklewoodReview by @cricklewood

5th Aug 2019

0

  • Nose
    20
  • Taste
    18
  • Finish
    20
  • Balance
    19
  • Overall
    77

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

It's difficult to be critical of Ardbeg without attracting a fair amount of shade from its hardcore fan base, you know the kind of folks who will respond to every lackluster review of a special release with "Yeah but have you tasted the Committee Release bro? Bro... If that committee release is that good, why won't they just bottle that straight up as is and show the whole world how good their whisky is?

There are other who will say Ardbeg is one of the whipping boys of the whisky world and yes it can be too easy to throw jabs their way since the marketing arm of the company seems to think to highly of itself, yes even when they're trying to be whimsical & "groovy" man.

At this point you’re probably wondering what makes me qualified to talk such, nothing other than I am coming from a place of love and respect for this distilleries products. In a recent review of Ardbeg An Oa, I wondered what the point of that expression was, it was enjoyable and technically well-made but felt it was vatting the character out of Ardbeg. Shouldn’t it be time that LVMH/Glenmobeg starts releasing other age stated versions in their line-up besides 23+yr old casks they have bought back from Indie bottlers to sell back as ultra premium?

A return of the 17 or even a 15 yr old Ardbeg showcasing what happens to the spirit as it “naturally” softens up rather than blunting it with oak and PX? How about a cask strength version of the 10, I know I can’t be the only one who wonders what that could be like? Why would they do that when they can continue to serve young NAS malts at inflated prices and they still make a killing doing that, all the while perpetuating tired borderline racist tropes of a fun “Caribbean” theme? Yet I still always approach any whisky on the merits/faults of the products at hand not the hype.

Nose: Diesel fuel, nutmeg,It's sprightly, a kind of fusel note, a very sweet nose that turns to a mineral/coconut oil vibe. A bit of ash and anise and a slight artificial banana note.

Palate: Sweet, ashy, licorice and vanilla. Pears, gum drops and then it gets bitter and earthy. Rough, leaves you with vinyl, new plastics, a creamy eggy feeling, a bit like an overcooked custard. Banana leaves, glycerin, anise, rotting grass.

Finish: Cashews, more of that plastic character, brown sugar. An unpleasant astringency, charred oak and camphor but everything starts to fade out not leaving any lasting impressions. The empty glass has a lot of petit grain, rice pudding and coconut tanning lotion.

Notes: Not great, but that's just my opinion, there are notes I would find pleasant if they were meshed well with the more austere side of Arbdeg but this just flies in all directions. Stick with the superb standard line-up, at least they haven't messed with those too much.

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10 comments

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

You’re not the only reviewer I have found to be less than enamoured with this latest “special release” Ardbeg. I have not found much reason to stray from the tried and true triumvirate of the Ten, Uigeadail and Corryvreckan. Thanks for an honest and very useful review. .

14 days ago 3Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@BlueNote thanks for the positive comments. I sometimes feel like I might be a bit harsh in my judgment but I feel too many producers get a pass because of their reputation.

The last few years have all been cask finishing laziness as far as I'm concerned. How about the 10 at cask strength as a batched yearly release like Laphroaig, who could be against that?

14 days ago 3Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@cricklewood Oh yeah, I think a cask strength Ardbeg 10 would be absolutely awesome. The difference between the Laphroaig 10 and the cask strength version of the Laphroaig 10 is almost unbelievable, and I still like the OB 10. I'm sure the same would apply to Ardbeg.

Don't be afraid to buck the trend and say what you feel. That's where I find the value of good, honest reviews.

14 days ago 2Who liked this?

@casualtorture
casualtorture commented

Nice review. I'll stick with the Oogie.

14 days ago 3Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

The 10, Uigeadail and Corryvrekan . . . I need no more relaxed

13 days ago 4Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

Drum was the only Ardbeg I've tasted that I really disliked. Some are better than others of course, but only Drum seemed downright bad to me.

I think it was the Committee Release version I tried from a friend's bottle.

13 days ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@cricklewood, what were the "borderline racist tropes" you found in the marketing for this one?

13 days ago 0

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@RianC give me those three till my cup runneth over.

13 days ago 0

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@BlueNote Exactly the differences between the CS and standard Laphroaig 10 are quite striking although I haven't had the CS that often, I also enjoy the standard 10 a lot.

I remember reading some years back that the profile of Ardbeg 10 is shaped by a certain amount of refill casks in the vatting in order to retain that heavy profile, it could result in something interesting.

13 days ago 0

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@MadSingleMalt I can't say I have had all the special releases but the last few from Kelpie onwards have felt rough rather than bold and just don't seem to capture the essence of what is presented with the core range.

The marketing gets me in several ways, some are not directly Ardbeg's fault but just perpetuate the Rum is the "fun" spirit trope that rum companies do unto themselves. We are told Whisky is a "serious" spirit and we talk of craft, tradition, precision and respect etc.. then as soon as you talk about rum, it's carnivals, stuffed parrots and steel drums, as if the people that make this stuff can't be as exacting, dedicated, precise and serious of their terroir or products than the other categories.

They also fail to give any provenance to the rum casks it's as if they are of the least importance they are simply from the Americas...there's more but I'll leave it at that.

13 days ago 0

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