Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Obvious Pedigree – Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release

Ardbeg Dark Cove
Ardbeg Day 2016 is nearly upon us and what comes with Ardbeg Day is the limited edition Ardbeg Day bottlings. Once these bottlings were limited to purchasing on Islay during the Feis Ile, Islay Festival of Malt and Music to Ardbeg Committee Members. Now we see world wide release but also dual ABV releases. That is The Committee Release and the Ardbeg Day release. Why two releases? A general guess would say true Ardbegians still have an opportunity to taste something extra special made just for them, while the lower ABV public release is just that, a release for the public wanting some essence of the celebration.

Before going on, for anyone not a Ardbeg Committee Member and wanting to find out more of what this is and what Ardbeg Day is you can get more info in our previous post: Ardbeg Day becomes Ardbeg Night 2016. Also be sure to link over to and sign up as an Ardbeg Committee Member.

Right here, right now, we are tasting the Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release created for Ardbegian Committee Members only. We saw limited release of this bottling here in Australia and it was truly only available to Ardbeg Committee members. Any member that purchased a bottle is (was) to go into the ballot for attendance at Ardbeg Day celebrations on Saturday 28th May 2016. This years event has been renamed Ardbeg Night and goes with the theme behind Ardbeg Dark Cove.

So what do you do when a distilleries core expressions are already of cult status? How can you improve when you are already at the top of you game? The reality is you can’t but what you can do is step sideways and try something new. This is what Ardbeg maker Dr Bill Lumsden has done. In the past couple of years I have heard many complaints about how the Committee Releases are not as closely reflective of the core range. as what they should be. Well I as why should they? If Ardbeg was to make a special release taste just like the 10yo then there would be moaning in the streets about it for being too close. It has to be a hard slog for a distillery already creating some of the most iconic drams to please everyone especially when Ardbeg 10yo is one hell of a bench mark. This year I think those critics, bemoaning the last couple of committee release ,are to be put in there place. Now you have it. Now you critics have that whisky that will make you wish this never whisky happened. Why? Because now you have another Ardbeg you will gauge all other Ardbegs against.

Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release
Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release
Distiller: Ardbeg
ABV: 55%
Location / Region: Islay, Scotland
Oak: Dark Sherry
Colour:  Toasted honey

Nose: Instantly recognisable as an Ardbeg. Waves of salt, brine, and earthy tannins. Layers of burnt coffee, sweet honey oak florals, toasted marshmallows, cut grass on its way to mulch, and fatty burnt bacon tips. This nose is saturating. SATURATING!

Taste: It took me a good 20min before I even bothered tasting. The nose was enough to stall the inevitable. But it must be done. Boom! Rich, oily, thick, and creamy. Dark stove top coffee, grilled red meats, salty mussel shells, beach drying kelp, drift wood, fat dripping onto charcoal fire with a lingering sweetness more akin to burnt sugar.

Finish: Long and coating. Real spice notes mingle with sweet sherry oaks. A dry salty fire builds on the tongue & cheeks while the coals smoulder in the chest. The oils remain in the mouth longer than I have experience in any other Ardbeg except maybe a independent Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottling. As it trails on, elements of toasted Lebanese flat bread appear to soak up those meaty oily textures with crusted crunch. It will leave you salivating that is a guarantee.

Overall this whisky asserts itself as an Ardbeg should. It is a hungry whisky too, wanting to claw onto your gums and tear onto your flesh. It is rugged and rocky, displaying the obvious pedigree but has turned its keel to its own horizon.

Weldon Dr Bill Lumsden. Well done indeed!

The Baron

D.T.W.C. was supplied a sample for review. All views and opinions are our own unless otherwise stated.