Ardbeg

Review: Compass Box No Name Blended Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

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ABV
48.9%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malt Whisky (see below)
Distiller Multiple (Scotland)

A limited release of 15,000 bottles - the peatiest blend ever released by Compass Box, centred around an Islay whisky from a Pier Road distillery (hmm…Ardbeg?). It is a bit pricy, but this had quite the buzz about it - Ardbeg from Compass Box!


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L 27 11 17 1 12:19 88

  • Bottling Date: 2017

What a nice, rich, nose! Lots of rich tarry notes, ash, smoke – but it’s very clean and well-put together.  Bacon, seashore, turf fires, smoke, clean dry oak, iodine, beeswax – quite nice stuff! It’s quite earthy – more earthy than I would associate with Ardbeg. The palate is full of rich smoke, but it’s tempered by a quite nice minerality, candle wax, and spice towards the finish, which is sweet, spicy, and smoky with some rich cacao notes too. Terrific stuff.

How does it compare to peat monster? Much deeper and more mature, with a much richer, clean cut taste profile. It really does outshine it in elegance, focus, and depth – but not in breadth.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. This is a very nice whisky, enough to propel it into a decent value category if you like peat, despite the high price (~160$).


Review: Ardbeg An Oa Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

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ABV
46.6%
Aging
PX Sherry, Charred New Oak, and Ex-Bourbon
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Ardbeg (Port Ellen, Scotland)

This Ardbeg has a bit of a focus on French oak, and introduced as part of Arbeg’s core range in 2017. As is the growing trend these days, it has some charred new oak in it and was married in a French oak vat to bring together the varying flavours created from the sweet, dried fruit character of the PX cask, the creamy corn influence from the ex-bourbon cask, and the oaky, sweet character of the new oak.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L70562 13/07/2018 18007341 11:42

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose is so rich – cacao, deep smoke, charred lemon peel, fresh lemon peel, rich earth, ground unroasted almonds, baking spices, iodine, turf fires, and biscuits. A touch of brilliant minerality, dried brown rice, dried apricot, prune, plum jam, and sharp smoke. A fascinating nose, and very Ardbeg. The youth is a bit present on the nose, but it’s a good youth.

The palate has an incredible dried smoky character to it, like charred chickpea or nut skins. Further, rockpools, white pepper, and coconut oil. And some sweet oak, ketchup (indeed), and a finish full of a smoked sea character (smoky seaweed, smoked fish, etc.). The finish is dry, oaky (French oak, quite so), ashy, and slightly marine. Minerality comes out on the finish more than other places.

A very nice whisky. How does it compare to the 10? This is a bit younger (more oily, a bit more raw) – smokier but not as fruity or balanced, or, indeed, as intriguing. But a bit bigger, and perhaps richer – but less mature. So, it depends what you are after. I like both quite a bit, but prefer the 10, which has the best of this – but more elegantly integrated and balanced. All that to say – this is still fantastic, and it’s a welcome addition to the range for me.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. A very nice peated whisky, but at a price. On a value scale, it’s better to go for the 10, which I find a tad better, and is a bit cheaper. Nonetheless, this is a decent buy if you like smoky, peated whiskies.


Review: Ardbeg 23 Year Old 1991 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Master of Malt) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
50.6%
Aging
23 yrs Ex-Bourbon
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Ardbeg (Port Ellen, Scotland)

Master of Malt, the online whisky behemoth, takes their hand at blending and sourcing casks as well - generally doing a terrific job. Here is an old Ardbeg - a highly sought after commodity.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Distilled Feb. 1991, bourbon cask.

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

It’s amazing the smoke that’s still so centrally here after 23 years. I love Ardbeg smoke. Quite maritime – salty, seashells, damp earth, rich caramel, custard, smoke, vanilla, dark soy sauce, some peat funk – what a nose! It has a bit of a salty element to it as well, quite medicinal, fresh almonds.

The palate is quite full, with roasted dried chickpeas, smoke, vanilla, oysters, earthy very dark chocolate, and some underlying sweetness. Quite savory, in fact, with quite a full body of earthiness and citrus supplementing the rest of the whisky. The palate hits you in different waves of flavor that all fit together.

A full dry finish with spice, smoke, medicinal character, tarry peat, dried apricot, and lemon zest. A brilliant whisky. It shows you why Ardbeg is a cult whisky.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. You don’t buy this for value…


Review: Ardbeg Perpetuum Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Ardbeg Perpetuum 2.jpg
ABV
47.4%
Aging
Bourbon and Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Ardbeg (Port Ellen, Scotland)

This is the Ardbeg limited edition 200th anniversary bottling, blended to commemorate Ardbeg's "past, present, and future" - but there isn't much information beyond whatever that means.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 200th Anniversary

  • Bottling Code: L61542 19/02/2015 15001508 08:25

  • Bottling Date: 2015

A sharp, ashy nose – rockpools, lemon, sharp smoke, peat bog, vanilla, custard, cayenne pepper, dark chocolate, iodine, eucalyptus, and almost a bit buttery at this proof with the young oiliness of the distillate coming through. The spice on the nose is intriguing. The palate is quite light, and full of blackened chickpeas, wet earth, smoke, ash, vanilla, and a bit more cayenne. Raisins and dried apricot are barely present, but there. The smoke is light on the sweet start, and it slowly starts to grow until the finish, where it continues. The finish is light and yet tannic and a bit tangy, with roasted root vegetables, rockpools, and smoke. Very enjoyable, and yet still lacking what I long for in Ardbeg.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. This comes are a pretty high price.


Review: Ardbeg Corryvreckan Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

This is the biggest of Ardbeg's regular releases, coming in at a hefty 57.1%, un chill-filtered and uncoloured. The price is hefty too, but so goes price/demand with Ardbeg. The whisky, itself, is named after the third largest whirlpool in the world, Corryvreckan, off the coast of the Island of Jura. The batches of this can be very up and down, and it has been described to me as an Ardbeg connoisseur as "terrible or awesome". I love giving this one to guests who have just been introduced to peat - I have certainly picked up quite a few fans.

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Review: Ardbeg Uigeadail Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

This bottling is a classic of the Ardbeg range, indeed, quite a classic in whisky as a whole. Originally, it combined old Ardbeg sherry-casked whisky with young, muscular and smoky Ardbeg – a classic use of different ages to balance a whisky and create complexity well (and, a worthwhile use of a no-age-statement whisky!). However, the age of the sherry casks, many suspect, has dropped since the initial releases. Batches also vary – the best are among the best you can buy, and the worst make you really wish you didn’t blow all the money to get a bottle (though I haven’t had a terrible batch, but a few I would definitely not pay for, if not all of them – is any whisky worth the $180 you pay in Ontario for this? Whisky, as fabulous as it is…is just whisky, and there is much to be had at a lower clip than this one). Also, Uigeadails are pretty terrible for batch variation...it could be brilliant, or blah...

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Review: Ardbeg Islay Single Malt Scotch 10 Years Old by Jason Hambrey

Ardbeg is a distillery on Islay, the region of Scotland renowned for its peaty whiskies. They are also (somewhat notoriously) known for many limited edition bottlings which are highly sought after and has brought the distillery to cult status. Ardbeg was one of the first distilleries to use No-Age-Statment (NAS) bottlings as part of their core lineup (Ardbeg Corryvreckan and Uigeadail), even charging more for these whiskies than for this 10 year old. (However – I must add – despite much of the correctly placed critique against NAS whiskies, Corryvreckan and Uigeadail are very nice whiskies, if not overpriced). Part of the reason they utilized a no-age-statement is because the smokiness from peat dies down with age, so an older expression of the same whisky will be less smoky.

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