Ardbeg Auriverdes

Ardbeg AuriVerdes
Distillery/Brand: Ardbeg | Region: Islay | ABV: 49.9% | Color: Pale Straw
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 85

Review

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.

Rating: 85

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Ardbeg Day Feis Ile 2012

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Distillery/Brand: Ardbeg
Region: Islay
ABV: 56.7%
Colour: Young Sauternes

Nose: 21
Taste: 22
Finish: 22
Balance: 22

Review
This particular review is about two years in the making. When this 2012 Fies Ile came out there was a mad rush by Ardbeggians (ArdbegHeads / BegHeads – take your pick) around the world to snag a bottle or two.

Luckily I was able to procure a couple for my self. I had a taste of it soon after and remembered not liking it much. Far too flinty for me, if you know what I mean. Had another taste a year later (from the same bottle) and the flintiness had mellowed a touch. And then finally another sample (same bottle) one more year later and it began to work.

Now I honestly don’t know whether the changing spirit was just me or some sort of chemical trickery. Unfortunately I didn’t keep notes for the first two times (I wish I had) because they would have made for some interesting comparisons.

Regardless, here’s what I think about it the third time around.

The spirit is a mix of eight, nine and twelve year old bourbon casks married in a sherry butt and left to develop.

Nose: There is that initial spent match / flint spark I had been getting the first two times but now with less intensity. I think letting this one breathe is best because that smell dissipates letting the others come through. Quite oily with a thick brine on peat. Brushed with a coastal sea salt. The sweeter notes come through next with an acrid green apple and young grapefruit sharpness. Still not my favorite nose.

Palate: Quite peaty with an earthy bonfire ash quality to it. Not entirely terrible, mind you. I like the citrus on this one; it’s like a dark orange covered in melon rind. The coastal sea salt is back and with it some white peppers. If the spirit was weaker these flavors may not have worked but the full bodied mouthfeel lends support.

Finish: Dark chocolates and spicy licorice. I would have liked it to have been longer but if medium is what Ardbeg wants then medium is what I will have to live with.

Is this my favorite Ardbeg? No. Is it worth the mad rush in June every year. I don’t think so. Do I want it on my bar, regardless? Yes.

Such is the allure of this distillery.

Rating: 87