Ardbeg Smoketrails Côte Rôtie Edition


We're ending the week with a travel retail exclusive, the newest release of Ardbeg Smoketrails. 

Ardbeg Smoketrails Côte Rôtie Edition

Region: Islay

ABV: 46.0%

Price: £70.00 (1 litre)

This release marks the second in the Ardbeg Smoketrails series, a new line of single malt whiskies from Ardbeg. These exclusive editions are available solely through travel retail outlets and the Ardbeg Distillery Visitor Centre. Each edition, set to be released annually in batches, will feature a blend of Ardbeg matured in American oak casks and Ardbeg aged in secondary casks sourced globally. This particular release, the Ardbeg Smoketrails Côte Rôtie Edition, combines whisky aged in American oak with whisky matured in Côte Rôtie wine casks from the Rhône region of southern France.

Nose

Initially, the nose offers aromas of strawberry jam, cashew nuts, fresh lime juice, seaweed, and salted caramel. This is complemented by notes of oats, cereal, wet earth, and cranberries. A subtle backbone of smoke, reminiscent of a log-burning fire, is also present. While not a bad nose, it does gives the impression of being on the younger side.

Palate

It opens with red fruits and a robust punch of peat, followed by the herbal and earthy notes characteristic of the spirit. Despite being 46% ABV, it's surprisingly hot. Residual ash and cardamom spice linger into a finish that’s a good length, accompanied by musk, lavender, dark chocolate, and tannins. As the tasting continues, we’re starting to find it's quite mouth-drying. The mouthfeel, to be fair, is pretty good for a whisky at 46% ABV. Overall, It’s better than we expected given the nose, but nothing to write home about.

Nose (with water)

With reduction, the Ardbeg DNA starts to become less noticeable, giving way to more prominent notes of cashew nuts, oats, plain crisps, and cereals. The lime notes have evolved into something akin to limeade. The smokiness has diminished, and water has really accentuated the youthfulness of the whisky.

Palate (with water)

The palate has developed a more pronounced bitterness and spiciness, along with an unusual fizziness. While notes of red fruits and ash persist, they are now accompanied by a considerable amount of vanilla syrup sweetness we’d assume is coming from the bourbon. The finish continues to be of good length, but it has become significantly spicier. However, the mouthfeel is somewhat underwhelming.

Conclusion

A few years back, a new release from Ardbeg was an event that stirred genuine excitement. Fast forward to the present, and it seems that each new offering from the distillery is, at best, underwhelming. Regrettably, this release does not buck that trend and, like the last Smoketrails release, it disappoints. We remain hopeful that the upcoming Ardbeg Spectacular, set for release next year, will be the dram to rejuvenate our excitement in the distilleries output.

Score: 6/10

Value

£70 for a litre of Islay whisky isn’t a bad deal. Saying that we’d rather have a 70cl bottle of Ugi which remains the crown jewel of the distilleries core range.

If you enjoy this review, our review of the inaugural release in the Ardbeg Smoketrails series, the Manzanilla Edition, can be found here. This edition features a marriage of whisky aged in American oak casks with whisky matured in Manzanilla Sherry casks from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, located along Spain’s Atlantic coast.

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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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