Distillery/Brand: Ardbeg | Region: Islay | ABV: 49.9% | Color: Pale Straw
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 85
It’s that time of the year again, folks! When emotions trump logic. When clear thinking is clouded. When, like crack addicts, we go insane for that one hit we have been waiting for since June 1 of last year.
I am, of course, talking about Ardbeg’s yearly Festival Release. This years’ must-have bottling is called the AuriVerdes.
‘Auri’ means gold and ‘Verdes’ means green. Which is basically to say there is gold liquid inside this green bottle. In Portugese. Not terribly creative I admit. It’s also the name of the Brazilian football team and, with the World Cup just around the corner, this is quite possibly a lawsuit in the making.
Let’s hope FIFA doesn’t bankrupt Ardbeg. How would we spend our hard earned cash on mediocre whiskies, otherwise?
This one has seen quite a different maturation process compared to other Ardbegs. The casks are American white oak ex-Bourbon barrels with normal Bourbon specification charring. Once in Scotland the heads were replaced with new American oak heads treated to a particular (and secret) toasting regime.
These re-worked barrels were then filled with spirit and ultimately blended together with Ardbeg from 1st and 2nd fill Bourbon barrels.
The idea was that the different wood elements would each lend their unique flavor profiles and create an entirely new flavor profile.
Did they succeed in a creating a unique flavored Ardbeg? Yes. Is it fantastic? Nope.
Nose: Very herbacious and heathery. Looking at the pale olive liquid in the glass one need not be surprised. The peat is subdued amid the vanilla butterscotch and stewed fruit. Some garam masala finds it’s way towards the end as well. The aromas are there but just not confident enough to create a lasting impression.
Palate: Quite thin and weak in my opinion. Very unlike an Ardbeg should be. Maybe they’re going for a newer audience that likes their whiskies unchallenging. Spicy spearmint with the same ashy greens as the nose. Maybe a chocolate pear in there too.
Finish: Medium with a touch of spice.
Had it at a tasting recently and a majority of Ardbeg fans in the room turned their noses up. As an avid anti-marketing whisky fan it pains me to see my favorite distillery riding on the back of it’s cult status and cool gimmicks instead of really focusing their blood and guts into making their whiskies the best in the world.
Which they were. And can still be.