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Ardbeg Uigeadail

Firepower in Balance

0 697

@11fourReview by @11four

24th Sep 2012


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Having always enjoyed the occasional dram, about a year ago I began to broaden my horizons and investigate the varied delights of this mysterious golden liquid called Whisky. With roughly a year's worth of exploration now behind me, I tentatively embark upon my first review.

Even in my whisky infancy, the Ardbeg 10 was a staple choice, an old friend I would return to - which is appropriate, as it was first introduced to me by an old friend, and we have shared many a peaty dram by an open fire since. With this history, and a broader taste for Islay, I began my personal collection with the much acclaimed Uigeadail. The Ten will remain a favourite. How would the Oogie compare?

Upon first opening the classic algae-green bottle, the aroma of fiery peat quickly filled the room. (Having been open for a year now, the potency of the nose seems to have diminished slightly - is this a typical phenomenon?) The fiery theme continued as the first dram was poured, the liquid a deep amber colour, that of a glowing grate.

And now the bit I'm most nervous about... Tasting notes! I take solace in the fact that this is entirely subjective.

Nose: Big peat, but not excessive. Oily and dank, an open fire in a damp pine forest. And spicy, cloves and cinnamon. It also reminds me of one of those historical information museums that pump out "authentic" rustic smells... Except the Uigeadail begs me to linger!

Taste: To quote my wife, "It's like drinking a bonfire!" Smokey, fiery, with possibly some sweet rum and raisin? Man alive, then the spice roars in like an accelerant! Yet it remains astonishingly balanced throughout. I had no idea such extreme flavour could be delivered with such balance. This was a new experience for me. As the embers die down, it's chewy, so chewy, like munching on a bit of old boot.

Finish: Long and leathery. Begins slightly salty, then bitter orange. Eventually all that remains is the warmth telling of the recent furnace.

This is undoubtedly my favourite whisky to date. I love the power and balance. My ridiculously high score reflects this but allows for something even more astonishing to trump it in the future!

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Wills commented

Really nice first review @11four. And yes, it is typical for heavy peated/smoked whisky to lose some aroma due to oxidation.

11 years ago 0

Victor commented

The trouble with discovering Uigeadail early in your whisky journey is that you set the bar extremely high for everything that you will taste afterwards.

Is your wife going to be a regular part of the whisky act? It is quite a blessing for a man when his wife shares the enthusiasm. My two main whisk(e)y drinking buddies are my wife and sister.

11 years ago 0

11four commented

@Wills thanks for the feedback, much appreciated. And thanks for the tip - that's useful to know.

@Victor I'm willing to devote a long time to finding something to beat it! But I take your point. My wife certainly is my main whisky buddy which is definitely a blessing, but I have a broader taste than her. Her comment quoted here was not meant in favour of Uigeadail! However I expect she will show up again in future reviews that I write - especially for sweeter, unpeated whiskies.

Thanks both for your comments.

11 years ago 0

Victor commented

@11four, also, you might want to note for reference the specific batch of Ardbeg Uigeadail which you liked at 97/100, and perhaps to put away a couple more bottles of it while it remains for sale. The batches do vary, sometimes a lot. Please note my Ardbeg Uigeadail review and extensive comment trail for both information on Ardbeg batch identification and on the range of differences that can be present. When Jim Murray named Ardbeg Uigeadail World Whisky of the Year a few years ago, that one ONE PARTICULAR BATCH of the Uigeadail to which he was referring.

If I were to rate the three different batches of Uigeadail which I have bought and sampled with a single number, for INITIAL first bottle-opened quality, they would be 98, 95, and 82. Happily, the 82 initial quality batch (bottle #2 from the review) oxidised quite well and after about a year had worked its way all the way up to 89 for me.

11 years ago 0

Victor commented

Oh, and, a couple of years ago, my wife's comments about Ardbegs and other heavily-peated whiskies were: "It tastes like licking an ashtray" or "It tastes like licking a fireplace". Now she likes them...not all of the time, and not at the top of her whisky list...but she DOES like them.

11 years ago 0

11four commented

Yes, I did indeed read your excellent Uigeadail review shortly after writing this review. It was both fascinating... and slightly disconcerting, as it made me doubt my scoring! I stand by it for now, until such time as I can compare batches. For the record, the bottle reviewed here was L11 230 13:56 6ML.

PS, I am glad there is still hope!!

11 years ago 0

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