Ardbeg Anthology: The Harpy's Tale


Just one review today as we’ve been busy with a family wedding this week... Luckily it's the newest Ardbeg. 

Ardbeg Anthology: The Harpy's Tale

Region: Islay

ABV: 46.0%

Price: £141.00

For those unaware, this week's new gimmicky Ardbeg release is from The Anthology Collection, a new series that will feature 'experimental' single malts matured in cask types that are new to the distillery. This first release is The Harpy's Tale, a bottling that has been aged for 13 years in a combination of classic ex-bourbon and sweet Sauternes wine casks.

Nose

The nose opens with dried apricots, chantilly cream, wet soil and herbal peat smoke. There’s a lot of bourbon cask sweetness here, caramel, light chocolate notes, along with the syrupy-ness of Sauternes. It shows a good bit of peat smoke upfront, but mellows as you continue to nose. Time and air brings out some roasted hazelnut, iodine, seaweed and a little fudge too.

Palate

The palate is super sweet to begin, with lashings of caramel, vanilla buttercream frosting, apricot preserve moving into bonfire smoke, charred wood and spent coffee grounds. The mouthfeel is actually really nice, although it feels like the overwhelming sweetness is contributing to this in a way. The finish lingers on for a good length, leaving mostly caramel and waffle cones. There’s noticeable alcohol on the palate too, a bit of ground black pepper spice that makes this dram feel a bit higher than 46%, we’d have guessed around 50% ABV. Time and air brings out empire biscuits and sugar-dusted shortbread.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose has some barbecued meat, sticky glazed pork ribs, boiled sweets, leather and dusty old furniture. It’s less sweet up front, with more smoke, oak and some pencil shavings appearing too. It also feels a little more coastal with a touch of sea salt coming through.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate continues in the same vein as the unreduced nose, with a big hit of sugar upfront, sponge cake, and more of an earthy, vegetal smoke coming through now. There’s some more spice that’s been awakened, candied ginger and dark chocolate coated macadamias. We’re not sure we prefer it with water, but each to their own.

Conclusion

This is a sugar-forward dram, it’s incredible sweet.. maybe too much so for us (and we love the sweet/peat combo). Otherwise it’s got a good nose, mouthfeel and finish so we can’t really complain about the overall quality of the dram. It’s a one-a-night whisky for us.

Score: 7/10

Value

We do love Ardbeg, but these last few years have seen a steady stream of marketing-first, value-and-quality-second releases. While it's nice to see an age statement here, it's still rough to encounter a non-cask strength 13-year-old at over £140. It would be sensible to pass.

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  • 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.

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