Water of Life Part 3
Ardbeg Day 2018
June 2, 2018
Where shall we start?
Ardbeg’s ten year old, non-chill-filtered; uncoloured variety is as good as smokey, soft peated single malts come.
Ardbeg is rich.
A complex cosmos of subtle notes.
In essence it embodies a well-balanced mélange of the essential flavours a good Islay malt should entail: Peat, malt, mineral rich earth, smoke, brine, iodine, hints of vanilla, salts of the sea with a pleasant fragrance that lingers in your Glencairn long after dramming it.
It is a unique one, a staple in my whisky cabinet and a fulfilling experience every time.
It should not be further wondrous that the 2018 incarnation of Ardbeg Day along with the limited edition release Ardbeg Grooves caught my attention and the prospect of sampling what was touted as a haze of apples and pears derived from bonfires and smoked spices got me excited, even though I have to admit that I was mildly concerned about the new emission being able to live up to the hype the marketing had created.
Themed a global festival of “Peat and Love” by the Celtic mothership in Islay, Sydney’s Ardbeg Day was in a bar set against a backdrop of a masterfully curated, psychedelic hippy-esque flower-power ambience with the tasting serenaded by the appropriate soundtrack, which effortlessly evoked the spirit of the 60ies for the release of the intensely mellow new Ardbeg Grooves.
Matured in intensely charred wine casks sourced from Brown Forman (for the connoisseurs among you, the name shall ring a bell as their recoopering enterprise was behind the now legendary “Sinatra Select barrels” release), which have had “grooves” (get it?) cut inside the inside of them, enabling the whisky to have direct contact with both charcoaled and freshly exposed oak with the dual oak exposure adding to the complexity of what Ardbeg is known for.
Upon Grooves hitting the palate, the trademark Ardbeg smoke comes through, even though a tad sandier, along with dark fruits making appearances in a prominent manner, hints of vanilla and lime expose themselves on the nose along with an overall fruiti- and woodiness.
Summa summarum, the amber-copper coloured drop is a well-rounded affair that is on point with an array of flavours, which do not overpower but complement the spirit of the alcohol with an impeccably balance.
In layman’s terms, 2018’s Ardbeg Day offers a rare opportunity to experience the distillery in a new light: Grooves is a different expression of Ardbeg, it amplifies the features of the wonderfully consistent 10 year-old Ardbeg by managing to bridge the chasm between subtlety and bombast.
The slightly shorter bottle is definitely one that you want on your shelf you are remotely into heavily peated whisky from Islay - all hail the dawn of the season of peat and love!
Read previous "Water of Life" entries here.
Photos by @k.a. vv