Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Lord of Islay? Ardbeg 10yo

Gents, I’m not sure if most of you are aware, but El Capitan and I are both employed in the outer rim of the galaxy, far from the galactic core (i.e. North Sydney). Since we work so close to each other now, we frequently adjourn from our official duties to discuss D.T.W.C. matters (and other important issues) over a coffee. Over the last week or two I have hinted to his highness that I was going to review the Ardbeg 10 year old (his favourite whisky) in the hope that he would take the hint and do it himself. Apparently the subtleties of our conversation were lost on him, and all he kept say was 'that sounds great'. So to cut a long story short here we are; I’m stuck reviewing the whisky.

As discussed in my last tasting note, I love the peaty flavours. In fact, I owe a big thankyou to El Capitan for acquainting me with them in first place. The first I tried was the Ardbeg 10yo when he generously allowed me a taste from his personal collection, so it has a certain sentimentality to me over other Islay whiskies. But this is a serious whisky review site, so I can't let sentimentality influence my analysis. Since then, I’ve tried expressions from as many Islay whiskies as I can. So far I’ve managed to taste Bunnahabhain, Laphroaig, Bruchladdich and Lagavulin. As expected, I enjoyed those with some serious peat most, which means I prefer Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg.

Along with the obvious smokiness which even my useless proboscis can discern, Mrs Colonel informs me that the Ardbeg 10yo has a hint of plants on the nose; damp grass perhaps. The drinking is good, but not as smooth as the Laphroaig or Lagavulin. Its has a harshness to it in the mouth which lasts a while. It’s a real ‘put hair on your chest’ whisky. The taste lingers for some time. I prefer some ice, but it is equally good with just water, or neat.

It always surprises me, but the Ardbeg 10yo is very light in colour. Intuitively I associate strong tasting whisky with a deeper, darker caramel colour, but the Ardbeg doesn’t conform to this. Each time I pour a dram and notice the colour I am astonished again.

Despite the harshness, I love it. Its one of my favourites and I highly recommend it to all. It’s one of those that I’ll always strive to maintain in my collection and I’m looking forward to trying other expressions from the distillery. If there standard 10yo is this good, the rest have to be sensational. Hopefully I’ll be able to find out at Whisky Live.

Another point to recommend it is that my father, a notorious whisky connoisseur who doesn’t mind demolishing my collection on his periodic visits found it to peaty, too strong a flavour. Unfortunately for him he was reduced to consuming the Bunnahabhain which as I noted earlier, isn’t quite to my taste. Things couldn’t have worked out better.

I award the Ardbeg 10 year old 5 Lighting Bolts (out of a possible seven).