Ardbeg Dark Cove (Committee Release), ABV 55%. Non-Chill filtered.
This is a limited edition 2016 bottling released to celebrate Islay Festival Ardbeg Day. It is matured in ex-bourbon and dark-sherry casks. According to the marketing, it is the “darkest Ardbeg ever”. While it does have a deeper amber than Ardbeg 10 and recent NAS Ardbegs, I am not sure that it is darker than Ardbeg Uigeadail. Something I will explore in this tasting.
On the nose, I find it to have less of an immediate peat push that I associate with an Ardbeg. It is there, just more subtle, and a little orange and raisin that suspect hints at the sherry influence.
On the palate, well just say it is very clear that this is an Islay single malt. I get a first tinge of the sweet sherry element that is quickly washed over by peat and smoke. On second sip, I pick up more of the spice, cloves, and pepper. An oil coating lingers with a pleasant blending of smoke and spice. It has an intriguing profile, more complex than I had anticipated
I am particularly fond of the finish. It is long, smooth, and – given that it is at cask strength – not overly warm.
I really like this latest Ardbeg NAS single malt, certainly more than the recent Perpentuum and Auriverdes. I enjoyed the Ardbeg Supernova, but I think that Dark Cove would be my choice in a dram-to-dram comparison.
Bottom line, this is a keeper! Having said that, this tasting is based on a Committee Release, which had limited production. It might not be easy to find another. I wonder how well the lower ABV general release of Ardbeg Dark Cove will compare.
Of course, I had to evaluate the “darkest Ardbeg” claim, a wonderful excuse to also pour some Uigeadail? So, here is the color comparison …
The Dark Cove is on the left, the Uigeadail on the right.
The benefit of this comparison, of course, is that I get to revisit Uigeadail again. I find the peat more pronounced, along with the mix of sweet and salty, licorice, and smoke. Still a favorite!
I think that if someone is newer to Islay single malts, they might find the Dark Cove more approachable – more of a sweet sherry element, and less pronounced peat. I do like it, but if I had to choose, I would lean towards the Uigeadail.