Tag Archives: Rubber

Tasting 7 Ardbegs (well, really 6 with one that is supposed to be an Ardbeg)

Ok, truth be told, I am no Superman.

Really, I’m just a guy who had some time on his hands and decided to taste seven, count them, seven Ardbegs in one sitting.  Just so you know, I am not one to get drunk.  In fact, I avoid it like the plague.  I’m a total control freak and loosing control in a drunken frenzy, is just not my bag.

So, how did I taste seven Ardbeg whiskies with out getting trashed?  Water, food and a nearly 3 hour tasting event.  I did it alone too which, for a tasting of this size and scope, I preferred.  I didn’t want anyone to influence what I was tasting.  Try it sometime. It’s like solitaire with booze.

Even though I posted tasting notes on some of these whiskies prior to this event, the notes below are new notes.  Why would I post new notes on whiskies I’ve already posted about, you ask??  Well, things change, moods change, etc…  Also, and more importantly, I tasted these whiskies one after another and my guess is that there was influence from one whisky to the next.

Oh, one last thing, Gal of Whisky Israel and I did a joint tasting of the Ardbeg Rollerocaster via Twitter and that posting will go up within the next week or two.  I did notice that my individual tasting of the Rollercoaster and this tasting with the other six Ardbeg whiskies was a different experience.  Watch out for that posting!

Alright folks, I’m done with the preamble and I’m ready to taste:

Ardbeg Ten Years Old – Islay region – 46%ABV – 750ml bottle$45 | £33 | €38

On the noseBright lemons right up front, sand-in-your-toes – a jog on the beach with the spray of ocean in your face (Awesome!), peat smoke (quite sweet), celery salt, rubber boots.

On the mouth Chewy peat, there’s such a beautiful element here, lemons, fruit, something a bit synthetic, warming, oak and boat tar.

FinishBright and quite pleasing, tingly – what a great entry level whisky.

Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist – Islay region – 46%ABV – 750ml bottle – $79 and up | £64 | €71

On the nose Peat (quite warm at that), grassy but increasingly fruity, some sour milk notes (baby vomit?), oak a bitter fruits (genepa?).

On the mouth Pure sex, dried fruits, raisins, prunes, nutty, oily, warms my body, delicate peat smoke.

Finish Still as short as I remember but, that’s Ok.  It’s all in the palate for me anyway.  Wait, those oaky notes I remember are back as is that warming feeling on the sides of my tongue.

Ardbeg – Indy Bottling – Cheiftain’s 1998 11yr – Islay region – 46%ABV – 70cl bottle – Not sure of the cost – sold out at all locations I frequent…

On the nose Oh, you’re an odd little Ardbeg aren’t you?? — Dirty peat, earthy, lemons (but not a bright lemon scent, more meringue and actually, a bit more like grapefruit than lemons the more I sniff), wood chips (almost a cedar-type quality to it), grassy.  There’s something else here too that I just can’t place. I can’t think of the scent but I’m getting images of an autumn state fair in my head every time I sniff and think about it…  Man, this is going to bug the crap out of me.

On the mouthA strange entry here, fruits all up front (citrus ones and they’re running the gamut), the peat arrives here kicking all of the fruits out of the way.  This is quite dirty and earthy (me like!).

Finish A nice warming peatiness here, some nuttiness I did not pick up anywhere else, long.

A Special thanks to DH for the sample of the Chieftain’s Ardbeg.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan – Islay region – 57.1%ABV – 750ml bottle – $79 and up | £60 | €70

On the nose Ah the brine!  Love it.  Love this Corryvreckan nose.  Big ABV but again (as in my previous post about it), I can keep my nose in the glass until I pass out from lack of oxygen, oak, tar, sweet peat smoke, nori seaweed, low tide, bursting with citrus notes!

On the mouth(Let the cask strength begin!)  Big peat attack but quite sweet, very oceanic (low tide), salty, tarry ropes, after the first three whiskies I’m not getting the dried fruits in the palate that I got the first time around (palate fatigue? I don’t think so.  Am I drunk?  I hope not.)  Let’s try again – there it is – pruney, some root veggies here now (parsnip): awesome.

FinishLong, they say diamond last forever.  This must be the diamond of the whisky world. Peat stays in your mouth for sure.

Ardbeg Supernova 2009 – Islay region – 58.9%ABV – 750ml bottle – $130-200+ | £200 | €233

On the nose Big, sweet and lemony.  More so than the 10yr (to my nose). Large peat, charred lemons (I imagine), rubber notes, beach ball leaves beach to have a swim in the ocean, lovely.  This nose would scare the living shit out of most people, me thinks – it attacks you!

On the mouth Here we go y’all – this is the most peated Ardbeg there is at 100ppm.  Let’s see what happens.  Ok, being that you’re reading this now means I didn’t burst into flames.  Here’s what actual happened – Ooof, it’s like the Ardbeg 10yr on steroids.  Bursting with lemony sweetness, brine and, of course, peat but it’s not the burnt piece of toast I expected.  Theres a purity here that’s quite remarkable.  Thin mouth feel but, hey, that’s Ok with me, the flavors are great.

Finish like the sides of my tongue are being tattooed with peat and using a lemon rind to get under my skin, some nice oak notes too.

A special thanks to JJY for the sample of the Ardbeg Supernova.

Ardbeg Rollercoaster – Islay region – 46%ABV – 750ml bottle – $79 and up | £50 | €58

On the nose I know that there are some younger whiskies in the make up of this expression but the nose (to me) doesn’t feel as young as I expected.  Peat for sure but it’s sort of a sexy nose (not biting or brash which I usually associate with younger peat), strawberry jam, citrus (of course!  this is Ardbeg people!), heavily salted stuff.

On the mouth Quite savory compared to the sweetness of the other Ardbegs I’ve tried.  Salted pie crust (if there were such a thing), peat, lots of peat, some fruits rear their heads here (strawberry, pomelo), charred wood, cherries now and some tobacco.  I am loving the Rollercoaster more & more!

Finish Medium long, this is at the perfect strength if you ask me.

Ellenstown 10yr Cask Strength – Islay region – 46%ABV – 750ml bottle – $45-$75 (could not find a UK/EU source)

On the nose Soapy, peaty nose, sugary (almost candied), some boggy notes come through (trout fishing at the local pond with my dad circa 1982), not as briny as some of the others I nosed, a bit grassy – not as nice a nose as the others but you brought me back in time and I like that.

On the mouth A light brisk walk on the beach, quite citrusy and purely delicious.  I’ve had this as a stand alone an “liked it” but next to some of the others whiskies I’ve been having, I now “love this”.  Quite a nice expression we have here.  Back to the flavors: Some sour notes pop up but overall there’s nothing but sweetness and peatness, a few **very** light rubbery notes but mostly a more natural feel to this one.

Finish A great length here, some grassiness on the finish alongside oaky notes and lemon grass.

Vatting of all seven expressions – this is like the Voltron of whisky here!! – Cost: Priceless

On the nose Very briny, much like the Corryvreckan!  Some tannic – almost winey notes here (like a really dry cabernet, dry & fruity), quite the salty nasal attack here.  Big, big peat!  something almost candy like (think the sugar from Pez Candy with out all of the artificial fruits), stinky shoes.

On the mouth Big punch of peat!  Awesome mouth feel – more oily than any of the individual Ardbegs.  The taste of the smell of an outside grill, woody (oak), vanilla bean ice cream (clear out of the blue some creamy notes came through), freshly-washed-and-hanging-to-dry-clothes.

Finish Oily, just like the mouth feel, big peat!  A cornucopia of citrus fruits.  Heaven.

In sum This was an amazing experience.  I was quite happy to taste the Ellenstown alongside the other whiskies.  Doing so improved that expression like you wouldn’t believe.  With regards to the Airigh Nam Beist, I was told by a few people not to taste it along side the younger Ardbegs as it’s magic would be lost.  To this statement I say: Bullshit.  If anything, tasting the beast alongside the younger Ardbeg whiskies made the Airigh Nam Beist stand out in a very positive way.

So, which whisky won?  I have to say that my own personal vatting was my favorite expression (Woo Hoo, I win!).  This being said, you will never have a chance to taste the JSMWS Ardbeg so I will now have to suggest another winner.

Drum roll please….

Ardbeg Corryvreckan – even though I prefer older, sexier peat, the Corry is so well balanced and complex.

Bruichladdich 3D3

Islay region – 46%ABV – 750ml bottle – $55 | £40

Another great Bruichladdich came my way.  This time in the form of a sample from my friend “O.K.”  Bruichladdich is one of these lesser known whiskies here in the states – especially when going to a bar (unless it’s a really good one like The Daily Pint that I just went to with a new friend – a post on that later with details of a new reader challenge issued to yours truly!).

A run of the mill bar in the US just does not carry a good selection of Scotch whiskies (or American whiskeys for that matter).  Most bars have the token Jameson, Dewar’s, Johnnie Walker Red & Black label, Chivas Regal 12yr and maybe a 12yr Glenlivet or Glenfiddich.  I’m not knocking these whiskies – they’re all nice and very drinkable.  But, nothing super special.

I would love to start seeing some (at the very least) entry level Highland Park, Bruichladdich, Ardbeg, Glenmorangie, Balblair, Cragganmore… the list can go on and on.  I’ve been trying to edu-m’cate my local watering holes but, I can’t do it everywhere I go.  Your average red-blooded American does not have access to the finer Scotch whiskies and it’s a damn shame.

Let me get on to my review of the whisky at hand: Bruichladdich 3D3!

On the nose — Sweet peat, honey, green apples, something a bit bitter (can’t quite place it), baby vomit, latex gloves, cheddar cheese (or more like salty cheese crackers, think Gold Fish) – came back for another nosing and found some nice flowery notes popped up and slight grassiness – perhaps lemongrass – Loving this nose – very complex!

On the mouthNice peat attach right up front – quite good, I like this at 46%, briny and a little like cocktail sauce (or the lemons from it),

Nice chewy mouth feel, celery salt.  This is really done well – Kudos ‘laddies!

FinishLong, peaty, smoke, honey and rubber.  The peat has violated every part of my mouth (wow, that sounds a little…dirty) – a Bruichladdich done quite right!

In sumThere are so many great Bruichladdich expressions and while all of them (at least the ones I tried) are quite different from one another, you know you’re going to go on a great ride with these malts.  This being said, you can, for the most part, always count on a delicious fruitiness to be your driver through the Bruichladdich journey.  While I normally go for the peatier stuff during the cold seasons, I would have no problem reaching for this at any time of year.

For those confused by the “Baby vomit” descriptor, check out Guid Scotch Drink’s “Say What!?” post to better understand what I’m really smelling when I say “Baby Vomit”

Also, check out Whisky Israel’s post of the Bruichladdich 3D3, Gal has gone to great lengths to fill you in on who this malt was made for (or is in honor of): Norrie Campbell

Lagavulin 1991/2007 Distiller’s Edition

Islay region – 43%ABV – 750ml bottle – $80 | £49 | €63 (the US price shown is for the 1991/2007, the UK/EU prices are for the 1993/2009 edition as I could not find the 1991/2007 edition pricing for them)

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve got some work ahead of me.  I just received 4 new samples to review and all of them are titans in their own right.  This, The Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1991/2007, 2009 George T Stagg Bourbon (at over 70% ABV!!), Port Askaig 17yr & the Laphroaig 30yr – talk about a line up!

I decided to start with the Lagavulin Distillers Edition for no reason other than the fact that it was a cold rainy evening and I needed to get warm.  I needed comfort and, if you know the Lagavulin, the peat in their whiskies really helps to get you to that warm, safe place in your mind whether it’s memories of a family campout back in the 70’s, the birth of your first child or the first time you listened to John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” — Lagavulin takes you there.  It’s that great.

Here is what the standard bottle looks like (1993/2009 edition shown):

and here’s a picture of the sample I worked from (a nice & healthy amount as you can see):

So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we?  Yes.  Yes, we shall:

Initial whiffs Very “Lagavulin”, almost more Lagavuliny than the standard 16yr (if that makes sense – if ‘Maximum Strength Tylenol’ is like regular tylenol, only more potent – this is how this nose is, without increasing the ABV), noticeably sweeter, warm-campfire-peat, dying embers, a bit pungent, fried banana, candle wax, very seaweedy, candied citrus fruits, wet leather — this has to be one of the most complex noses out there (that I’ve nosed) – absolutely lovely – I’ve been nosing this for 5 minutes now… I think it’s time to taste.

Palate Rubbery, both in flavor and mouth feel, big tobacco, very salty but less sea-like, anise, not as sweet as the nose, oily smoke, quite nice though, compared to the standard 16yr… the balance seems a bit off here (can’t place it but, it’s off – could be me).  Still, very-very nice.

Finish Peppery, lasting smoke, a bit more biting than I expected given the 43%ABV, some vanilla, salty — Yum!

In sum As amazing as this one is, for some reason, I like the standard Lagavulin 16yr expression a bit more.  Perhaps it’s because that’s what I’m used to or maybe it’s that off-balance feel I got from the nose to the palate, not sure.  This is a nice little treat especially if you want the big warm peat but something a wee more sweet (should I keep rhyming here?  Because, I totally can.  Don’t think I can’t or won’t…  Oh, you don’t believe me??  “Beat Street, the king of the beat, I see walk that beat from across the street, uh-huh-huh, beat street is a lesson too, ’cause you can’t let the streets beat you…”)

Wow, that was unnecessary!  Carrying on — This is without a doubt a warmer-upper to be enjoyed during a cool autumn evening but again, as much as I liked it, I’d be happy to keep paying the lower $$ for a Lagavulin I like more (the standard 16yr expression).

A special thanks to The Scotch Hobbyist for the sample trade!  Cheers to you my friend!