Ardbeg Spectacular


As we approach Fèis Ìle 2024, we're taking a look at Ardbeg's festival offering, Spectacular.

Ardbeg Spectacular

Region: Islay

ABV: 46.0%

Price: £110.00

Ardbeg Spectacular is a special distillery bottling released for Fèis Ìle 2024. This release marks a first for Ardbeg, as the whisky was initially matured in Port wine casks and then married with whisky from bourbon barrels. Depressingly this year there’s no cask strength Committee Release.

Nose

On the nose, this whisky has cashew and pistachio nuts, a touch of TCP, proving bread/yeast, gingerbread, lime and lemon juice, smoked kippers, dried earth, and jasmine. The nose leans towards the savoury side, with a pronounced rice crackers note along with a hint of sea salt. The bourbon casks that went into this are definitely more pronounced on the nose than the port. Less spectacular and more passable to be honest.

Palate

The initial taste delivers a punch of ash and log fire smoke, complemented by some lavender, sugar paper, and a slight touch of pepper in the background. The mouthfeel is somewhat watery, leaning towards the thinner side. There are also notes of peanuts and leather. The finish is a reasonable length, featuring pepper spice, ash, and peanuts. Going back there’s some icing sugar, TCP/antiseptic, and a hint of grape, though it requires a bit of effort to detect.

Nose (with water)

With water, the nose holds up well, but remains similar to its undiluted state. Its becomes more nutty and savoury with the smoke, earth, and ash aromas having reduced, and the other notes having come to the forefront. Outwith that it’s relatively unchanged.

Palate (with water)

With water added, the taste becomes more bitter, reminiscent of grapefruit, and spicier, and we can’t say we’re particularly enamoured. The mouthfeel remains unchanged. The lavender and nutty notes are reduced, while some ginger spice and caramel emerge. The finish is notably spicier.

Conclusion

We're not detecting much of the port influence in this release, but we can overlook that. What's more difficult to ignore is the use of the term "Spectacular" for a dram that falls pretty short of that descriptor. It’s another passable release from Ardbeg, a trend that’s becoming all too common these days.

Score: 6/10

Value

Your money would be better spent on Ardbeg's core range.

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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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