Ardbeg SMWS 33.125 Salted Caramel Lollipop

Ardbeg SMWS Alligator

Distillery/Brand: SMWS | Region: Islay | ABV: 64.2% | Color: Pale Straw

Nose: 24 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 94

I was at an Ardbeg tasting recently and after sampling the Auriverdes (which left a lot to be desired) we were told there was a surprise waiting for us right at the end.

The surprise happened to be an absolutely wonderful bottling of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. This one was bottle 33.125 aptly named the Salted Caramel Lollipop. This single cask Ardbeg was seven years old and served up at a delicious 64.2%.

Our host for the evening, an ex-SMWS chap, claimed that the spirit inside was actually a seven year old Ardbeg Alligator which, if true, completely blows my mind!

We’ve been having debates on how hard it is for distilleries to bring out flavors in younger whiskies given the state of high demand and here you have a fledgling powerhouse that delivers a slap in the face of all these claims.

If this really is the Alligator then I’m definitely in love with the younger sister.

Nose: The smoke is upfront and unapologetic. Salty barbecue sausages with a fresh fennel and cucumber salad on the side. For dessert there is a toffee pudding served with a side of citrus orange and pineapple. Sublime.

Palate: Firing on all cylinders! Sweet apricots soaked in sugarcane juice with a garnish of fresh mint. But it’s the spices that are king. They come at you with a thousand prickles of pleasure. You want to savor it for a long time but instinct forces you to swallow.

Finish: Gorgeously long and with all the spices in all their glory.

This is truly a sublime single cask whisky and forces me to ask this question. Is getting young spirit to taste awesome so hard?

Rating: 94


Ardbeg 10






Nose: 23
Taste: 24
Finish: 24
Balance: 23

How can one distillery go through, what is fundamentally, the same process and produce expressions that are miles ahead of everyone else?

The standard Ardbeg 10 is anything but. Like a young savant it hides the most complex of personalities yet remains buoyantly youthful. As the tangy smoke rises from delicately grilled lemon zest roasting on the grill the chef brushes the main course of sausages with his own brand of special butter glaze. The sweetened smoky peat, mixed with a touch of tincture, remind you where this savant was born.

The palate is like eating a soft pudding under a haze of powdery volcanic ash. I never thought words like tar, soot and tobacco could be used to describe something so utterly scrumptious but then I’ve been proven wrong many a time. A juicy, brightly colored orange kicks in at the last instant re-affirming the massive complexities that lie in this delivery.

Smoked bitter gourd, a touch of medicine, tiny oak shavings and a toss of minty leaves finishes up one of the nicest and longest deliveries that have ever had the pleasure of cascading down my fortunate gullet.

Rating: 94