Ardbeg Arrrrrrrdbeg! Committee Release (inc. Ardbeg 10)


Ardbeg Arrrrrrrdbeg! Committee Release

Region: Islay

ABV: 51.8%

Price: £145

This particular committee release was bottled to mark Mickey Heads retirement after 13 years as the distillery manager. Arrrrrrrdbeg! was matured exclusively in ex-rye casks.

Nose

There’s an initial hit of salt and vinegar crisps, day old banana bread, a little rubber, light sweet smoke, and some grilled pineapple at the beach on a summers day. The alcohol is quite restrained and you could sit with your nose in the glass all day. There's also a little bit of acid in the background that reminds us of a mixture of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.

Palate

On the palate theres some alcohol burn alongside burnt rubber, smokey charred lemons, and sherbet. There's a fizz on the tongue that reminds us of an Albariño wine. There's a lot of white pepper spice and a touch of vanilla sweetness, but overall the mouthfeel is very thin with a short finish that's quite disappointing. This just tastes too young.

Nose (with water)

With water there's a little blue cheese, some oaky vanilla, some earthy vegetal notes and some seaweed. A lot of the lighter fruiter notes having disappeared and this has become heavier and more savoury.

Palate (with water)

Now there’s more of the white pepper spice showing alongside the bite of the young alcohol and smoke. There is however some tropical pineapple and banana in the background providing a nice sweet note. There's also a dried matcha tea note alongside a little oiliness. We're not sure if this is better with water - it seems to have opened up more but also become a little more bitter and intense.

Conclusion

The nose was incredibly promising, but the palate fails to deliver. Ardbeg is such a hyped distillery and these committee releases are quite expensive for NAS bottlings, so we're not totally sold on this. We think that there's better Ardbeg expressions readily available for half the price, such as the 8 year old, 10 year old or Uigedail.

Score: 6.5/10


Speaking of the 10 year old...

Ardbeg 10

Region: Islay

ABV: 46.0%

Price: £40

We recently reviewed Bowmore 12, a core range bottling that we had fond memories of. Unfortunately, reviewing it more recently we were massively disappointed. In revisiting Ardbeg 10 we’re hoping that it's as good as we remember.

Nose

On the nose there’s sweet cereals, iodine, vanilla cola, light smoke, milky, a bit of dunnage warehouse funk, and finally some ash. Good start.

Palate

This has a good balance of sweet and peat, smoked fish (kippers), salty sea air, earthy dirt bonfire, herbal notes of roasted rosemary and thyme, some light lemon peel. Finish is medium length and coats the mouth well.

Nose (with water)

Nose is now like a fish and chip shop on the beach, with lots of peat punching through, and some freshly baked bread and butter at the end.

Palate (with water)

With water there’s a little rubber initially. Followed by more fruit and spice. A fair bit of the smoke has disappeared, but there’s still some burnt charcoal lingering. This is like the aftermath of a BBQ.

Conclusion

This is a well balanced dram at a good ABV for the price. Islay lovers will lap this up, and for good reason. Dr. Bill has nailed the ABV here, so we’d avoid adding water. Would love a cask strength version of this though! Skip the committee release save the pennies and get this.

Score: 8/10

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  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

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