Back to back Ardbegs! That’s how we like to live our life. Especially if there’s not much to complain about. After the funny sounding An Oa it’s the equally ludicrous Kelpie.
Jackie, over at the visitors centre at Ardbeg, was kind enough to set aside a case of the Committee bottling before our trip to Islay on account of them disappearing off the shelves well before the Feis rolls around. We had a couple of wee sips while at the distillery but nothing formal.
Last night was the first time I actually sat down with it.
So what is it? To be honest it’s just another cool story that’s trying to conceal how young this whisky is. Really. Look, I appreciate all the endearing tales they come up with – who doesn’t – and more than that I appreciate each and everyone who works at the distillery. They are the absolute best.
And it’s because of that we all smile and nod our heads as they tell us tales about monsters covered in seaweed that emerge from the depths of the sea or listen attentively to brand ambassadors as they explain what virgin oak from the Black Sea is. I’m still not quite sure, to be honest.
But I don’t want the age of the whisky to detract from the fact that this is a perfectly acceptable tipple. Nothing much wrong. Nothing much spectacular either but then the industry has been letting us down so often that we’re rather happy when something is not absolutely horrendous.
Oh, the pain of living in a world where we crave adequacy.
“Stop being melodramatic” says my brain.
“Shut up” says my heart.
Bottled at 51.7% my sample is from a brand new bottle.
Nose: Rather sweet and citrus-y. Custard like sweetness. Lemon like citrus. Then the signature tones. Ash. Soot. Seaweed. Wait! Not seaweed. Kelp. Of course I smell kelp. Grapefruit. Eucalyptus (finding a lot of this lately). Let it sit and it becomes more grainy. Barley. Quite a sharp and piercing nose. Not in a bad way. In a young way, maybe. Some olive oil. Some balsamic vinegar. My wife makes a salad dressing like this. I like the salad dressing. I like this nose.
Palate: Good delivery if a little thin. Ash. Soot. Charred banana leaves. Spices. Lots of spices. And here are some more spices. Nutmeg. Clove. Cinnamon. There’s something a touch bitter here. None of the sweetness found on the nose. With water it turns more grainy. More chalky. More limestone. I wish it was sweeter.
Finish: Decent. Oily. Citrus. And that soot.
Overall Comments: It’s an Ardbeg. It’s a good Ardbeg. I wish it was a smashing Ardbeg. But that’s ok. I’ll settle for a perfectly adequate Ardbeg. The story is cute. Something about monsters. The casks are weird. Black Sea and all. I’m just happy it doesn’t suck.
@Nozinan, I am inclined to agree with @MadSingleMalt on this issue, viz. the real question is whether or not there is sufficient difference among the offerings to justify a special release. Overall I'd have to say that I think that Ardbeg has put out a few releases which were unnecessary by virtue of their being fairly similar to other whiskies in their standard line, e.g. Perpetuum seems to me like an NAS above average batch of Ardbeg Ten. I have a generally high opinion of Ardbeg's standard line, so being like the Ardbeg standard line of products is for me not a bad thing at all.
It seems that Ardbeg feels the need for regular publicity bolstering by way of continuing to put out a steady stream of special releases. For some of us, this seems a bit, or more than a bit, manipulative.
@BlueNote you have nailed it. Making customers feel they are 'missing out' if they don't keep up.
I do find some of the packaged art endearing, like the little dog with a space helmet on the Galileo box. But I've been getting fed up with Ardbeg for a while now and have checked out with the special releases, especially this nonsense of two different ABVs for expressions of the same name.
To clarify, I'm yet to meet an Ardbeg I didn't like - but I'm off the marketing train.