We're kicking off the week with a couple of Ardbeg's (or an Ardbeg blended with Caol Ila to be exact), including the newest committee bottling.
Ardbeg Anamorphic Committee Release
In case you're unaware of the gimmick for this latest committee bottle, we can tell you that the cask heads were scored to expose more of the wood's surface area. Then, the cask ends were heavily toasted using Ardbeg's 'high mocha' toasting process. Finally, the inside of the barrels were charred. Frustratingly, there’s not much additional information available on this release.
Initially, the nose presents with notes of Indian pilau rice, cardamom, fennel, freshly turned earth, eucalyptus leaves, a fresh peppermint aroma, and herbal peat smoke. Allowing it some time to rest uncovers notes of honey, dry oak-smoked salmon, and tar. An intriguing nose.
Initially on the palate we’re getting dark chocolate, barbecue smoke, and dry earth, for us it’s reminiscent of Bizarrebbq but with slightly less intensity. Revisiting, we can detect fizzy apple juice, Tizer, chilli spice, fresh Saffiano leather, musk, and lavender. The finish is of a good length, with an ashy peat lingering. This is a little spicy but the heat is reasonably offset by sweetness and peat. Our biggest critique is the palate feels a bit thin, and we feel it might have benefited from a slightly higher ABV for bottling.
Nose (with water)
With water added, we start to notice green wine gums, a very pronounced Ardbeg herbal note, porridge oats, aniseed, and liquorice. While the peat intensity has lessened slightly, most of the original, pre-dilution notes still persist, albeit more subtly in the background.
Palate (with water)
With a touch of water, the initial taste becomes spicier and drier, and the quintessential Ardbeg character seems less prevalent. However, as we sit with it, the dram turns sweeter and less peaty. The mouthfeel remains consistent. As we try and tease out other notes we detect a little lime cordial. The finish remains unchanged by the water. It not terrible, but seems very one dimensional now.
We definitely recommend avoiding water with this one. Without water, it's fine. Nothing special, it feels to us like these committee releases have become a bit like your favourite movie franchise; each subsequent entry is fine, but never recaptures the magic of the previous release.
NAS whisky for £130? No, thank you.
Dun Dearg 5yo
This 5yo blended malt is a mix of two-thirds 5 year old Ardbeg and one-third 15yo Caol Ila. 507 bottles were released.
Initially on the nose, there is heavy butterscotch, rice crackers, rock salt, and a little sea breeze. There's less smoke than we were expecting; it’s sitting in the background with notes of ash and grilled pancetta. The aroma also includes freshly squeezed limes, dry roasted peanuts, and pepper. From the nose we’d never have guessed this was 56.9%.
The palate is somewhat thin, featuring ginger and cinnamon spice, along with some toffee. There's a hint of blood orange juice bitterness, along with some cigarette ash The finish is of a good length, but it's mostly just the spice that lingers. Notes of chocolate coins and lemon juice are also noticeable. Overall, we’re find it rather simple.
Nose (with water)
Adding water brings out more of the cask influence, revealing notes of caramel, butterscotch, and toffee. The spice profile shifts to ginger and turmeric. It's sweeter now, with hints of kelp and seaweed. However, the peat presence has diminished, manifesting more as tobacco.
Palate (with water)
Adding water hasn't helped; it's become more bitter now. While the spice is in better balance, it's still a bit overwhelming. The palate now includes grapefruit juice with more pronounced ash and brown sugar. The smoke lingers on the finish, accompanied by sugar syrup. The mouthfeel remains unchanged, and the finish still maintains a good length.
We were extremely excited to try this blend of Ardbeg and Caol Ila, as it sounded like something we’d love. However, sadly, it falls short of our expectations. We'd be happy to have a dram of this, but it's not something we would actively seek out.
It’s a good price for Islay peat.
- 10 - Perfection. One in a million
- 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
- 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
- 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
- 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
- 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
- 4 - Below average. Passable.
- 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
- 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
- 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.