It wasn’t until last year that I got into the Islay Single Malts, but I did a lot of catching up in that one year. Since then I bought and consumed around 4 L of Islay malts at home and many rounds at the local and distant pubs. Unfortunately I didn’t make any tasting notes because when you are with friends, I find it a little disrespectful to ignore everyone around you while jotting down notes, or tapping virtual keys. When with friends, enjoy their company.
This Ardbeg is the last of my Islays that I saved for a review. I carved out some time when I was alone at home and sat down alone with my thoughts, a glass, a bottle and a little bit of water. I am by no means a purist of any kind of professional taster. I enjoy malts both neat and diluted. I drink things that I enjoy (repeatedly) and don’t care about those around me have to say on how you “should” drink something. Gotta try it all!!!
Ardbeg isn’t colored. It comes out with a light straw color with just a tiny hint of yellow. The nose is very peaty with hints of sea, damp wood, burnt charcoal and cellar. Very heavy nose. The palate is just as intense with a peat character that is present for the entire journey from the moment it hits your tongue until well into the finish. Leather, toffee, pudding and wood follow the heavy peat. Salt comes in right around the finish and helps create a very satisfying peaty/salty finish. In addition to that, the finish also carries notes of damp ground. I love it.
A bit of water makes the nose a bit sweeter and introduces a vanilla note, while cutting down on a peat. The water also cuts the oily mouthfeel to a more medium-thick one, and tones down the palate a notch. Though the water makes this Ardbeg easier to drink, I find that it robs too much of the character so I prefer it neat…neat for sure.