We look at some more Ardbegs, including a core range release and a slightly older committee bottling.
Ardbeg Corryvreckan takes its name from the whirlpool that lies to the north of the island. It’s a non age statement whisky and there’s scant details regarding the liquid inside the bottle. We’ve heard it’s bourbon and red wine, but can confirm that 100%.
Nose open with lemon sherbet or more precisely dib dabs. There’s also some light smoke, salted caramel, toasted marshmallows, and butter. There a cooked meat note here which we’re going to say is burnt bacon and finally some tar.
Palate has a nice selection of sweeter notes such as vanilla icing, sugar, honey and dark fruits such as blackberries. These are balanced out by the notes that any Islay lover is looking for i.e. seaweed, ash, bitter or perhaps burnt coffee, and of course the peat.
Nose (with water)
The dilution has reduced the smoke quite significantly. We’re now getting some melted demerera sugar in addition to the above sweeter notes. There’s also a strong vegetal note here now.
Palate (with water)
Reduced palate is more perfumey - think an Alsacian Gewurztraminer. Similar to the nose the smoke recedes along with much of the sweeter notes, this is now more peppery. We’re getting a medium length finish with a little ash ands some sweetness coming back at the end.
Another solid Ardbeg. Personally we’d opt for a bottle of Uigeadail over this and save a few quid, but this is still a great wee dram and definitely worth a 8/10.
Ardbeg Grooves Committee Release
Price: £89 (RRP)
The committee release of Ardbeg Grooves was originally released in 2018 for Ardbeg day. The whisky was matured in bourbon casks and re-toasted red wine casks. These wine casks were intensely charred to create heavy grooves in the surface of the wood, hence the name.
We’re getting an instant hit of wood smoke, black pepper, vanilla, and mango. Going back to it after a little air reveals papaya, burnt brisket, and a little cream. We’re debating if there’s any grape here or if it’s our imagination from knowing the cask types.
There’s a good hit of smoke along with some burnt toast that dominates initially, before the sweeter notes of white sugar, vanilla, burnt toffee, oranges, and toffee come through. Good length finish on this with the peat hanging around.
Nose (with water)
Ok reduced this is definitely more musty now. There’s also some toffee, vanilla and raisins. Going back to it after we let it sit and we’re finding there a herbal note with some milkiness behind it.
Palate (with water)
The smoke is dampened somewhat by the addition of water but sweeter notes are still here. There’s also some warming pepper and chilli notes. We’re also getting a little faint mint on the back palate. Personally we wouldn’t add water but it’s not ruined by the addition either.
If you are a fan of Ardbeg and got this at RRP then it was a good buy, but we can’t recommend paying more than that.
We reviewed a fair few of the core range bottles now and because our scale takes in price you’ll find several of these have been given the same score. If you’re interested the below is a list of the bottles in order of preference ignoring price.
- 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.