Today we’re looking at a couple of older, discontinued Ardbeg releases.
Region: Islay / Speyside
Price: £320.00 (Auction)
For those who are unaware, Serendipity is a blend of 20% Glen Moray and 80% Ardbeg. It was created by accident when the distillery mistakenly vatted a batch of Ardbeg, due to be used in the 17yo, with some 12yo Glen Moray. 16,000 bottles were released.
An initial mustiness follows into some green apples, barley sugars and dry hay. There’s some more fruit here, fresh apricots reminding us of a young sauternes, mushy bananas, a little fresh pear too. The peat is very light, almost indistinguishable, but there’s a salinity here that brings an Islay character to the dram.
Bananas covered in vanilla cream drizzled with caramel sauce… it’s a dessert in the glass. There’s some nice lemon juice accenting some bitter cocoa and oak flavours, giving the dram some needed brightness. The peat makes a little more of an appearance now, although it doesn’t last for very long. Similar to the peat, the finish is a bit of a letdown and disappears very quickly. It has a surprisingly nice mouthfeel though, quite oily and clings to the tongue nicely.
Nose (with water)
We’re getting bright citrus now, lots of lime juice and zest, sour green apples, following into some buttery pastries. It’s a little bit like apple pie and vanilla ice cream. Very light and refreshing now, very pleasant to nose, but you’d confuse a lot of people if you told them this was mostly Ardbeg!
Palate (with water)
A continuation of the reduced nose with a fresher, fruiter palate now, with the addition of some bitter tea leaves, honey and hay. There’s some sea salt here playing well alongside the sugar from the fruit. There’s a nice background vanilla note which lingers into the finish. Unfortunately some of that pleasant mouthfeel we had has disappeared, and overall it feels a little thin.
This is a very quaffable dram, with some nice fresh fruit and citrus, but there are some flaws, including the lack of finish and thinness on the palate after water has been added. We’d appreciate a slightly higher ABV but overall it was an interesting experience and we’re glad to have gotten the chance to try this. Scoring this is difficult, it’s a fine whisky but no where near good enough to warrant the secondary market prices right now. We’ll go for a 6.5/10.
Price: £180.00 (Auction)
Blasda is a lesser-peated version of Ardbeg, being just 8ppm in bottle as opposed to the standard 10yo's 23ppm.
Citrus and smoke, both quite light. The nose feels quite restrained, but we’re finding a little malt, some mint, grass and a light medicinal note too. There’s some vanilla and green apple here too, but again nothing is really bursting out. Going back we can find some grapefruit and a hint of kiwi. There’s a touch of peatiness but it’s barely there, which is to be expected at only 8ppm.
Sour grapes, grapefruit, ash, zingy lime, soft peat notes and brine. It’s a heavier palate than the nose led us to believe, but its a touch flat. The finish is medium to short and the alcohol, even at 40%, is quite potent. Going back we’re getting some roasted peanuts, ginger biscuits, sweet vanilla and a little singed orange peel. It just feels a little young and simple.
Nose (with water)
We’re getting more sweetness now, icing sugar and artificial vanilla essence. There’s some herbal notes of thyme and sage coming through along with some white pepper. Water has opened up the nose somewhat, it feels less restrained than it was before. Going back there’s some tangerine, pencil shavings and dry sand.
Palate (with water)
More earthy notes coming through now, dried grass, thyme but with some nice vanilla sweetness in the background. There’s some of the citrus here too, lemons, limes then going into some milk chocolate with a hint of smoke in the background. We’re noticing a slight meaty note here too, reminding us of honey roast ham. Unfortunately the water does nothing extra to help mouthfeel or finish.
The dram started off very closed, restrained, and not giving us much, but with some air and water we started getting some more aromas and flavours appearing. Overall it just feels a little flat, sippable but young and not really exciting. Similar to the Serendipity, it would benefit from a few more percent ABV, but that also might make it too hot, who knows… For us this is probably a 6/10, fine, drinkable whisky, but nothing too special.
- 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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