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Nose: Sharp high notes of sherry and peat greet your nose while a deep rich powerful fruit notes gurgles in the background. Oranges, raisins and plumbs mix with cinnamon and other spices dancing over deep rich peat. This is very velvety and earthy. This is a deep sherried nose, but in a different fashion from the L11 147. It is like a dark purple velvet curtain is enveloping you. Wood smoke in the background and a dark deep black earth peatiness undergirds everything. Formaldehyde, tobacco, and leather gloves make an appearance. This is a baritone peat tone. The smoke lives a bit higher up, but not as high as the L13 058. Still, really intense with a ton happening up high: now mint and pine sap resin emerge. Smelling the L11 147 next and coming right back to this one brings out chocolate along with the oranges in this nose. The chocolate is really strong now: dark chocolate, oranges and fruit on a bed of peat. This one gets an edge for a level of evolving complexity, power, and sparkle that every other batch just kind of lacks. This nose always takes me to a very specific place: a room surrounded by purple velvet curtains. It is a cross between an old English-manor-house-library and, a scene from a David Lynch movie. It feels both eerie and comforting . . . I feel like I am in the North West but still ensconced in velvet. This is the smell of purple in a glass framed in black and forest green. I love it. When the nose of a scotch can evoke my imagination into a crystal clear image I know that it is a special whisky. This is such a dram.
Taste: Chocolate covered fruits dipped in liquid peat. Lovely dark plumbs, baked red apples, and prunes all on a piecrust of peat and earth. Very sweet, salty, tart, bitter, and then back to sweet. Definitely, this is one of the sweeter batches. Nothing overwhelms. It is amazing! Now some salt and heat . . . it is growing very big and wonderful. Smoke and peat are emerging to dominate.
Finish: Huge Ardbeg intake of breath . . . now comes the scalding wave of peat. It pulls everything out of your mouth into a gigantic hole . . the dead sea now in your face. Peat, wood, fruit, seaweed, smoke, and the ocean with engine oil floating on the surface. Lovely. Perhaps the most smoky batch of the lineup. Tons of peat and fruit: the fruit is dark and rich where the peat and smoke are powerful and strong. Love it. A very interesting hint of liquorish – anise? Oak, smoke, peat, cereal grains, and animal feed with a bit of rusted metal. Biggest finish of the night.
Complexity, Balance: Extremely complex. This is about as complex as Ardbeg can get for my money. And the balance is fantastic. What it tells you on the nose you get everywhere else. Everything comes out for a solo like in a jazz group.
Aesthetic experience: Third darkest color in the current lineup. The L7 325 was obviously the darkest with the L11 147 being a slight bit darker then this batch.