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This year I fulfilled a dream I've had for a long time now. Visiting the tiny island of Islay during the Islay Whisky Festival to visit the distilleries that have had me captivated for so long.
And, of course, there was one open day that I was looking forward to the most. Yes, you guessed it - Ardbeg. I know they've been disappointing so many of us for so long now but there's still something that draws us all back.
So we all got up bright and early and on May 30th entered the distillery grounds to much fanfare. A live band, smoked Oogies and Corrys, seafood stalls, an ice bar and of course the Ardbeg Perpetuum - this years' Ardbeg Day Release.
I didn't maintain any high hopes, mind you, given Ardbegs' recent lukewarm releases. Which I think is probably the best way to approach anything in life. Less chances of being disappointed.
The final whisky contains a mix of different ages and casks (both bourbon and sherry), including a small amount of the oldest Ardbeg malt currently available. How small I wonder?
My sample is from an open bottle served at a funny 47.4%
Nose: It's not bad. Nice peat smoke. Almost a char to it. A lot more vanilla than you normally find in Ardbegs. Smells quite creamy. Like custard. There's a hint of iodine. More medicinal eucalyptus if you like. Touch of fruits. It's not spectacular mind you. But I quite enjoyed nosing it.
Palate: Creamy mouthfeel. Lots of soot. Ash. Smoke. The vanilla is back. So are the fruits. Hint of oak. Spices. White pepper. Strong Earl Gray tea. Salty too. The first dram didn't do it for me, though. Had to have a second to come around to quite liking it.
Finish: Quite long. Salty. With a touch of oak.
This is quite a decent whisky. I like quite a bit. I don't know if it was because I was on Islay since everything tastes amazing on that island. I'll try it again in a few months and decide. Till then I am happy to give this my nod of approval.