Ardberg Uigeadail. Cask strength, 54% ABV, non chill filtered. On first nose smoke and peat, followed by subtle hints of the sweetness from the sherry cask finish. On the palate, a complex mix of tastes … sweet and salty, licorice, with lingering smoke. A long warming finish, much like that of Ardbeg 10.
This is a special treat! Of course, I am more that a bit biased, as I have become a fan of Islay scotches generally, and some Ardbeg bottling specifically.
Ardbeg Uigeadail was named the Whisky Bible’s ‘World Whisky of the Year’ in 2009.
According to the Ardbeg distillery web site, Uigeadail pronounced ‘Oog-a-dal’. http://www.ardbeg.com/ardbeg/whisky/ardbeg-uigeadail
Springbank 10. Non-chill filtered, 46% ABV. A Campbeltown single malt. A tease of peat and smoke on the nose. The palate has a surprising bite on first entry, sweet and sour, with a salty warm finish.
Makes me think that when I eventually get to Scotland, that the long drive down the peninsula to Campbeltown would be a worthy journey. I have found something to like in the mild mannered neighbor to Islay.
Port Ellen, 30 year old, cask strength, 57% ABV. This is an Islay from a distillery that closed in the ’80s, now a limited edition of numbers bottles released each year until they are out of stock.
A distinctive Islay, first nose almost sweet with a hint of smoke and peat. Hot on the palate, pepper and lemon, medium finish with the smokiness emerging.
This has been a real treat, a unexpected discovery. While I have watched, have not seen any other Port Ellen sold locally.
That is the challenge of some of these unique offerings. Outstanding, but once consumed, I will not likely find another.
Aberlour a’bunadh. A unique single malt from the Speyside region. Cask strength, 60% ABV, non-chill filtered. Dark amber reflecting the double finish in sherry casks. Not surprisingly, a sweet nose, sherry and orange. On the palate, there is the anticipated sweetness with surprisingly complex spicy notes. A nice lingering finish.
I really like the playfullness of this scotch. It provides a fun contrast to the smoky peaty malts. A very nice after dinner dram.
Glenmorangie 18 Extremely Rare. A classic Highland single malt. Aged 15 years in bourbon casks, then finished for 3 more years in sherry casks. The nose is sweet, honey, hints of fruit. On the palate, it is smooth, honey and almond, with just a slight bite. It heats up for a nice long finish.
At the start of this journey, Glenmorangie was an early favorite. The various bottling with finishes in casks that infused a little sweetness. While my tastes have gravitated toward the Islay varieties in the past 15 years, Glenmorangie is still among my favorites. Based on my experience, I think it is a great introduction to the complexities of single malts for those first discovering this pursuit. A comfortable dram, warm and easy sipping – an ideal companion for a comfortable chair, a warm fire, and a good book.
Longrow 10. A Campbeltown single malt from the Springbank distillery. Mellow Peat and a hint of smoke with a teasing aroma of fruit, perhaps pear. A smooth entry on the palate, medium dry finish, smoke and peat emerging. A comfortable dram that sips like a mild Islay.
I did a bit of homework on the Springbank web site and they describe Longrow as an experiment in developing an Islay-like scotch. The peat on this seems less sea salt influenced than those of the Islay offerings.
Ardbeg 10. Non-chill filtered. 46% ABV. This is a wonderful treat of a scotch firmly planted in the Islay tradition. The nose is smoky and medicinal. Begins with toffee, quickly overtaken by peat and smoke on the palate. It has a long warm finish.
If you wish to experience an Islay scotch on a budget, I think that Ardbeg 10 would make a great choice. There are some Ardbeg bottlings that are more complex, and are among my favorites, but come at nearly twice the cost of this very affordable Islay.