The minimum age a whisky must have in order to be called Scotch is three years. I've seen a lot of labels, and not too many will offer a three-year age statement.
If I called something The Ultimate, my guess is you'd expect it to be a premium product. How many of you would consider five years a premium whisky?
Now, wait just a darned minute, Whiskeyfellow! Aren't you the one who has said time and time again that age is just a number and an age statement is not an indicator of quality? Why, yes, yes I have.
Ardbeg is a name that is well-known by fans of Islay Scotch. Heavily-peated between 50 and 55 phenol parts per million (ppm), Ardbeg doesn't fool around. While Ardbeg is known for having no-age-statement whiskies (including one of my personal favorites, Corryvrecken), they're not known for bottling young whisky. But, today, I'm writing about a five-year single malt called Wee Beastie.
Wee Beastie is the youngest expression Ardbeg has ever released and is the newest addition to its permanent lineup. Bottled at 47.4% ABV (or 94.8°), it is also the most affordable from the distillery at only $39.99. Like everything else Ardbeg releases, it is non-chill filtered. Wee Beastie was aged in both Bourbon and Olorosso Sherry casks.
"Young and intensely smoky, this is a dram untamed by age. Matured in ex-bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks, Wee Beastie is perfect for enjoying neat or as the mouth-watering main ingredient in a powerfully smoky cocktail." - Ardbeg
I purchased my bottle of Wee Beastie based on my long experience with Ardbeg. Prior to purchase, I'd never tasted it. But, it is time to #DrinkCurious and discover what this youngster is all about.
Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, Wee Beastie looked like the color of straw. It formed a medium ring with incredibly slow legs that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.
Nose: This is typical Ardbeg, meaning the peat can be smelled from across the room. It was sweeter than many of what Ardbeg offers, somewhat comparable to An Oa. But, beyond that was something I've rarely encountered - smoked meats, and of that, both brisket and pastrami. It made me salivate. I also smelled apple and pear. When I sucked the aroma in my mouth, I could swear I tasted freshly-cut pine trees.
Palate: The mouthfeel was oily with a medium body. The more I sipped, the oilier it became. On the front of my palate, I found apple, pear, and oak. There was also a dusting of cocoa powder. As it moved to the middle, it became briny with a hint of raisin (likely from the sherry) and dark chocolate. The back had flavors of sweet tobacco, barbeque sauce, and barrel char.
Finish: Dry and chewy, the finish consisted of charred oak, pastrami, black pepper, dark chocolate, and brine. Originally the finish was medium-short but expanded to medium-long with additional swallows.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: It is difficult to see a bottle of Ardbeg at this price and ignore it, youthful or not. There are some distillers that have that sort of magical power, and I'm not talking hype. Wee Beastie doesn't disappoint with its smoky punch, character, and distinct mouthfeel. Not only do I think this was a good purchase, but I believe it is a steal. Wee Beastie is a slam-dunk Bottle rating. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It