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Ardbeg Rollercoaster

Average score from 5 reviews and 26 ratings 86

Ardbeg Rollercoaster

Product details

  • Brand: Ardbeg
  • Bottler: Unknown
  • ABV: 57.3%

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Ardbeg Rollercoaster

Ardbeg Rollercoaster 57.3%

Colour: Straw

Legs: Admirable

The nose. Peat. Obviously. That lovely peat that's made from licquoricey toffee apples, with a sickly sweet twist that might slightly cloying to some? Smoke and raisins rubbed on banana skins.

Ignore the Ardbeg hype, the fanboys and the haters. Sit up. Take the biggest lungfuls you can muster, close your eyes, and imagine yourself on a rocky, seaweed-ridden coastline with vicious sea spray mingling with morning Sun.

Now let the waves fade out, and migrate to a warmer, cosier place - that cottage that's literally a stone throw away from the sea. The evening fire's burning in late Autumn, and the apples are in season. Stewed apples for desert. Woodsmoke enveloping you. The sea, the fire, the food on the table, you - it all becomes one.

Taking a mouthful, the 57.3% hits you right in the cheeks at first, sorting the men from the boys. It's dry, tingly, bitter. Peat, of course. And red grapes, heavily-dried Autumnal fruits, some curry hints, and some weird memories of strawberry bootlaces. Carry on holding it there, nursing it, riding the crash of the waves. Then a suggestion of cocoa gets left behind as the burn fades out.

Going back for another few heavy lungfuls, the cocoa is still there, mixing in with cigars this time. Another mouthful crashes into the gums.

I add a dollop of water as I figure it can take it, but get a whiff of decay in the glass which takes me aback. I think it's the peat coming through stronger. With water it feels… lacking. Impotent. Like I've just told a clown to take his make-up off and have a nice chat. This is Ardbeg Rollercoaster - if you're going to drink it, then it's SUPPOSED to laugh in the face of dental hygiene, surely. (It's not even a macho thing - I'm the skinniest, most lightweight guy I know. It's all about the experience, innit?)

You know what this reminds me of? New make. Raw spirit. Smoke and peat and dried fruits like you've just licked the inside of a chimney made from apples.

It's Ardbeg. It's been 10 YEARS already - seriously? When did I get old? But this is a weird sort of blend - it feels like a back-to-basics, strip-everything-out release. Sure, it has subtlety, and enough subtlety to justify the price tag IMHO. But it's a subtlety that is second fiddle to raw, in-your-face chutzpah.

And that, reader, is what makes Ardbeg Ardbeg.

I have to disagree with this review. This is one solid Ardbeg, forget Uigeadail, Corryvreckan, heck even Lord of the Isles. Rollercoaster offers the most complex Ardbeg this side of £500. The mix of different ages and casks is evident. Try a sip and you might pick up on tarry, tobacco pouches. The next sip might hit you with seaweed, salt and coastal notes. One thing, you are guaranteed a solid whack of peat. This is one heck of an Ardbeg which needs to be tried. My personal score would be 95, it doesn't get much better than this!

@allanmb: Thanks for the comment - oddly I don't think I'd disagree with anything in it though :) I would probably give this a higher overall score too - I'm still working out my "range" but probably somewhere around the 89-92 mark. The 4-part Connosr scoring system (which I think I'm trying out for the first time here maybe) weights the 4 parts equally - but this is probably a good example of where 1 or 2 "make" the whisky.

I found the finish a little lacking - could have been more interesting given the intense hit at the start, and didn't find the overall balance as good as others - yes there's an amazing "raw subtlety" going on here, but I guess I define balance as a kind of "progression" from one flavour to another.

So yeah, if you're reading this and thinking "Hm, only 80?" then ignore that bit :) This whisky's all about intensity and Ardbeg, go and try some now :)


Rum and coke, black olives, fresh summer rain, new carpet, spinach, and stargazer lilies on the nose. This whiskey has a lot going on! The palate was smoky, with some hint of celery or seaweed; something green. Also a dryness at the end. Very bold on the tongue with hot peppers on the gums. A hint of clam chowder. The finish was full of creamy vanilla on the back of the tongue. Long-lasting.


The Rollercoaster is probably the most hyped whisky of the last few months. Long in advance the marketeers at Ardbeg had announced this Committee Release, that would be launched on Feb 15th. It’s release marks the 10th anniversary of said committee. The hype caused Ardbeg some red cheeks as the website – predictably – crashed for several hours. The rumours that only 3.000 bottles would be released was exactly that: a rumour. 15.000 bottles were created.

It’s a vatting of no less than 10 casks, all of them post-take-over-stock since 1997 (when Glenmorangie PCL became the owner of Ardbeg). The oldest cask is from 1997, the youngest from 2006 (after all, any younger casks would not yet be whisky, remember?).

Let’s see what’s in this bottle then (the percentage is NOT the ABV, of course):

  • 1997: Second fill Barrel (9,5%)
  • 1998: Refill Hogshead (12,2%)
  • 1999: First Fill Barrel (14,2%)
  • 2000: First Fill Barrel (10,9%)
  • 2001: Refill Barrel (6,2%)
  • 2002: Refill Barrel (8,9%)
  • 2003: First Fill Barrel (11,7%)
  • 2004: First Fill Barrel (10,6%)
  • 2005: Second Fill Sherry Butt (10,4%)
  • 2006: Refill Hogshead (5,4%) ---

  • 2010: Rollercoaster! (100%)

For those who do not like to do their own math, my calculations put this dram at slightly under 8 years (not Legal age, of course, but average age). Not as young as I thought.

On to the tasting then:


I really took my time for this one. A little over 40 minutes to be exact. You can smell this Ardbeg is not that old, but it’s nevertheless rather complex. First a smack of alcohol and peat – although a lot less than anticipated – and then some brine, sardine pasta (if you’ve ever had lunch in a Portuguese restaurant you’ll know what I mean), lots of iodine, a little mercurochrome (the red stuff you put on your kids’ scraped knees) and even smoked bacon (weird!). But also some overripe banana and pears if you give it a little time. Finally, quite a bit of soot. What a combination.

My first gulp… GULP! Holy cow! The 57,3% knock me off my socks. Very powerful indeed. My salivary gland goes into overdrive! A lot of peat at first, more than expected after that nose, but very rough on the palate (hey, I’m still a novice, ok!). Also rather herbal, but I cannot decide which. Aniseed, maybe? A little wet grass too. Anyway, too powerful to me, I need water with this one (see below).

The finish is longer than expected, somewhat earthy with pepers and salt and even some cough syrup.


Adding some water reveals vanilla and green apples, but also rubber boots (that have been in a moist basement for too long). I’m sure about the aniseed now.

Yes, I like it much better with water. The alcohol boost is tempered making me enjoy this salty dram a lot more. It’s quite creamy now. The taste reminds me more of the classic 10 now. It’s a lot sweeter and less bitter than straight.

The finish is somewhat shorter now, but still sooty and sweet.

In my opinion, there is a big difference between the nose and the palate. I’m not sure how to score this one, since I like the nose better straight, but the palate diluted. Now what?

Intruiging, no?

Jeebus - that's a thorough review! The review sort of confirms my thoughts a little, that it is a good malt, but the hype is a little bit over the top. From where I'm standing, for the money I'd spend on it, there are other drams out there higher up on my wishlist.

Thanks, guys. Since this was such a highly anticipated whisky, I felt compelled to give a thorough review with some background info. @jdcook, I understand your position, mate. Having to get a bottle shipped to Down Under would double the cost of this bottle and in all honesty, it's not worth thàt much!


I decided to crack open the Ardbeg Rollercoster last night. It had been a quiet Sunday afternoon; roast beef, Observer, 30 minute snooze in front of the tele..

I had iTunes rolling through a few old albums in the background, including 'Youth and Young Manhood' by Kings Of Leon. I couldn't think of a more appropriate soundtrack for this whisky.

At first it's quite sweet (and maybe innocent) on the nose, vanilla essence, pear drops and a bit of Crème brûlée. But on second sniff there is a more acidic, citrusy quality which comes out. The younger alcohol is evident.

Taste, I get lots of aniseed type flavours and a numbing antiseptic feeling. It dances on front of the tongue with a citrus zestiness, but to the side of the mouth you get a sweeter butterscotch flavour which is more akin to the nose. I wouldn't say that peat is one of its primary flavours, but you have to mention it.

Finish, medium to long with a metallic after taste (which I can't make my mind up about).

Overall the younger casks really come through to make it a nice punchy experience. It opens up with water, but I quite like the more abrasive youthful edge of drinking it neat.

I approached this whisky with a bit of caution following the media frenzy around the release but I think I would recommend Ardbeg Rollercoaster to any whisky fan.

Just having a sip of this tonight, it gets better every time I go to it...

Nice review, I think context can add a lot to the whisky tasting experience. Good choice of soundtrack too.


Nose: briney and coastal, with notes of smoked sardines with a few drops of lemon. It’s easy to detect the youthful power and the sweet notes that go with it (pear, artificial hints of banana) but there’s enough older stuff in there to get the balance right. A lot of iodine. A few musty elements. Nutmeg and cumin. Mint. Quite industrial in a way. Water brings out vanilla and fragrant notes.

Mouth: not the most impressive mouth-feel given its strength, but the big wave of peat smoke is certainly present. The first things I get are signs of its youth which are then overtaken by liquorice, lemon and coal. Gets curiously vegetal and herbal after a while (aniseed, eucalyptus, coriander leaves?). Some very dark chocolate. Water makes it slightly grassier and more rubbery.

Finish: long on chilli peppers and briney smoke. Slightly bitter cloves.

Full review: whiskynotes.be/2010/ardbeg/…

True enough. But then, Ardbeg has a reputation as well, and I guess you pay for that.

That's true @markjedi but Ardbeg has a reputation for a reason, and this dram seems to fall just a little short of Ardbeg's usual standards...

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