Found these from years ago. Pretty sure I posted them at the time. But here they are again, in all their nostalgic glory.
So I tried the Ardbeg “Ardbog” today…
This year’s ‘limited’ edition Ardbeg is named for the peat bogs from which the famous Islay malt garners it’s characteristically smoky flavour. By drying their barley using peat cut from bogs on the island, Ardbeg’s whisky is infused (at least for the standard 10yro bottling) at 24 parts per million phenols.
The packaging is covered in a selection of sketches, depicting the various archaeological curiosities found in the Islay bogs over the years. Paying homage to both the wetland’s almost unrivalled preservative properties and the all important ‘young coal’, to which Ardbeg owes its distinctive character.
But who cares about the packaging and the marketing mumbo jumbo? On to the spirit itself!
The Ardbog has been created by blending bourbon-cask spirit with whisky matured in casks formerly used to hold Manzanilla, a form of fino sherry from Cádiz, a province in Spain’s southern-most region, Andalucía. Like its predecessors it has been bottled at cask strength - this time 52.1% - so I sampled it both with and without water.
But what was it like? I hear you cry. Wait no longer, here are my tasting notes:
Resounding aromas of salted nuts and toffee, caramel sweetness interwoven with the customary smoke. A slight herbal twinge and.. is that smoked bacon?!
With water, the peat opens up a little to reveal more cut herbs and a savoury note that reminds me of salty smoked bacon or perhaps cured ham.
True to the nose, salted cashew nuts, almonds and toffee. Big peat and an oily mouth-feel, but surprisingly mellow for a cask-strength dram. That cooked meat starts to appear when… It’s gone. All that’s left is the normal Ardbeg smoke and citrus.
"Tastes like Ardbeg". Nothing characteristically "Arbog". Somewhat short and improves only slightly with water. Finishes much like the Sopranos, in the middle of a - *credits roll*.
Being a fan of Ardbeg, I enjoyed the Ardbog - even though the palate didn’t have as much of the Manzanilla influence as I expected. The finish however was disappointing and let down an otherwise intriguing dram.
Despite having some lovely features, much of it felt a little too similar to previous iterations. After thinking it over, the dram has put me in mind that perhaps they didn’t have enough Manzanilla matured stock to support a full roll out, so increased the proportion of bourbon matured spirit in order to meet the required bottle quota for their annual release. But that’s just conjecture. Either way, I feel that it would have benefited from a slightly higher proportion of the Manzanilla cask spirit.
Overall, worth trying a dram. Unless you’re a collector or have £80 to burn needlessly I wouldn’t bother buying a bottle.
Look what I found…
Released in 2008, yet hiding on a shelf in 2013. Never tried it before, but picked it up for the simple reason that one day I can neck it and say “this is one of the last bottles in the world!”. Good times.
Brace yourselves, because here comes an unpopular opinion.
I think this is perhaps the most overrated whisky on the market right now.
“But why?” I hear you cry, “It has such a pretty bottle!”. Exactly my friends; and that is all it has. At just shy of £100 a pop, I expected great, nay, exceptional things from the Dalmore 18; and was left with more than just the bitter taste of disappointment…
The Master of Malt tasting notes promise “rich fruits, vanilla, orange zest and milk chocolate” on the nose, with “chocolate raisins, stewed fruits and old sherry” on the palate; followed by a “long fruity finish with buttery toffee apples and cocoa”.
The Dalmore website itself is slightly more modest, outlining “almonds, toffee, baked bread” on the nose, “spice, chocolate and coffee” on the palate and “caramel, pear and cinnamon” on the finish. While the official website is a little closer to being accurate than MoM, I’ve been left wondering what went wrong with this whisky.
Dalmore often laud themselves for their exclusive and almost hedonistic maturation style, boasting of bold flavours and quality. Yet the aromas and flavours of this not inexpensive bottling from Whyte & Mackay feel more like a cobbling together of last years christmas leftovers, rather than the exquisite, rich, chocolatey christmas cake we’re led to believe it will be.
I find myself searching for aromas on the nose, even a touch of water only does a little to unlock the toffee and fruits, which insist on hiding behind the vanilla.
The palate lacks all the rich chocolates one would expect (and would find, for example, in the GlenDronach 15) and leaves me thinking of cheap advent calendar treats. The sherry fruits are there, but completely lacking in richness and complexity. There’s a slight woodiness that - while not offensive - isn’t appealing and a bitterness that is crying out for balance. The coffee is just about locatable, but most certainly doesn’t qualify as a plus, given the general bitterness.
The finish, while delivering a chewiness and somewhat satisfying tingle on the tongue, is nevertheless most satisfying because it’s over.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a terrible whisky. It’s certainly drinkable, in the same way that supermarket own-brand cola is drinkable. It kind of has the flavours you’re after, but you wouldn’t pick it off the shelf unless there was nothing else. The difference is, own-brand cola is vastly cheaper than its branded counterpart and doesn’t claim to be something it it’s not. Which is more than can be said for the Dalmore 18.
In short: save your pennies, don’t be lured in by the pretty stag on the bottle, and get yourself a GlenDronach 15 if you want a proper rich, chocolatey, sherried dram.
Whisky Old Fashioned made with Auchentoshan Three Wood and chocolate bitters.
Poor Mortlach 16, a victim of its own tastiness. It gets used as the primary constituent malt in Johnnie Walker Black Label, which as the worlds best selling whisky, means there’s none left for peeps like me who want the single malt!
I know enough people who’ve lost their lives to drunk drivers.
Don’t drink and drive. Ever.
TASTIEST MOTHERFUCKING TEQUILA THIS SIDE OF MEXICO
This message was sponsored by Samuel L “Motherfucking” Jackson.