Dramfool Red Bag #1 (Ardbeg) & Ardbeg Galileo


Independently bottled Ardbeg's are hard to come by, so we're excited to see Dramfool releasing their first cask from the cult distillery. We'll compare this to an older limited release from 2012.

Dramfool Red Bag #1 (Ardbeg)

Region: Islay

ABV: 57.7%

Price: £245.00

Distilled in 2006, this release was matured in a refill bourbon hogshead for 16 years before being bottled in 2022. 260 bottles were released.

Nose

A relatively restrained nose at first, we're finding dried lemon peel, a light dustiness and smoked vanilla custard. It's light, with pre-ground white pepper that's lost some of its intensity, bakers yeast and a mellow peatsmoke. The dram benefits from more than a few minutes in the glass as the nose is very tight when first poured into a glass. We’d recommend pouring your dram 30 minutes before you want to drink. After a little air we’re getting some bonfire smoke and honey. Digging deeper and there’s also a hint of oak, some cereal notes and tobacco.

Palate

Initially there’s some barley sugars, digestive biscuits, and a light ashy peat note. It’s a touch hot for us with a little too much of an alcohol bite on the finish, and a chilli heat that catches the back of our throat. Going back to it and there’s a touch of fruit in the form of apricot and mangos, along with vanilla sweetness. It’s got a good texture and mouthfeel, but like the nose the palate is very restrained. 

Nose (with water)

Fortunately a little water helps opens this up and there’s now there’s also some caramelised ginger, and milk chocolate. The smoke is a little more restrained, but the cereal and sweeter notes have really come alive with some water. Worth noting while there’s nothing wrong with the nose, we wouldn’t necessarily have pegged it as an Ardbeg. With some more air we're finding lemon zest and wet leaves.

Palate (with water)

Water brings this more into balance. There still a bit of spice and alcohol punch on the finish, but it’s much more palatable. The good mouthfeel remains. The peat has been diminished a little, but the palate has gained a floral note of lavender, and like the nose the fruit notes and now much easier to ascertain. There's now a bit of a milky/creaminess to the dram we didn't detect before, and those bitter notes towards the end have disappeared. 

Conclusion

Not what we were expecting. As we said, it doesn’t scream Ardbeg to us and we’re also a little surprised that after 16 years in bourbon the wood has not had more of an impact. We’re big fans a what Dramfool puts out, but we’ve found this dram a little disappointing. Price wise at £245 it's a little overpriced, but then all single cask Ardbeg seems to be. For us it’s a 6.5/10.

Score: 6.5/10


Ardbeg Galileo

Region: Islay

ABV: 49.0%

Price: £220 (Auction)

Ardbeg Galileo, released in 2012, is made up of casks distilled in 1999. Some of these spent their full term maturation in Marsala wine casks. The release was named in celebration of Ardbeg's experiment, when they sent whisky into space at the end of 2011 to see how maturation worked in zero gravity.

Nose

The nose opens with some dried tropical fruits and light peat smoke. There’s also some dairy milk chocolate, salted buttered crumpets and a little linseed oil. Giving it some air and we’re also getting cranberry, blackberry, almond, cloves, and aniseed. It’s a great nose, there's so much going on, and to be honest we’d be happy to sit and nose this all day. 

Palate

Initially there’s a nice hit of smoke, followed by a sweet caramel note that reminds us of highland toffee sweets. There’s some subtle hints of stewed fruits, clove, and aniseed. It’s got a really good mouthfeel even at 49%. There’s a nice ashy note that lingers on the good length finish. We were expecting this to be more fruit forward based on the nose, but still really like it. 

Nose (with water)

With water we’re getting some Islay costal see breeze coming to the fore with the water having accentuated the smoke. The cloves and aniseed have receded somewhat and we’re now getting some ginger, honey and nutmeg joining the other notes above. 

Palate (with water)

With water the peat has been dimmed a little. It’s maybe our imagination but it seems a little hotter with water. However, it’s not unpleasant... it’s a nice peppery warmth. Going back to and we can detect a little lavender and heather. The finish is maybe a touch shorter, but there’s a nice amount of smoke and sweetness lingering. The good mouthfeel remains.

Conclusion

This is good with or without water. It really comes down to if you want the bigger peat hit on the nose or the palate. In case you can’t tell we’re a big fan of this, and picked up a bottle on auction. Being honest it’s not worth as much as £220, but it’s definitely worth more than the original RRP. We’re going with a 8.5/10

Score: 8.5/10

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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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