Showing posts with label Ardbeg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ardbeg. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Ardbeg Wee Beastie Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Ardbeg Drum Limited Release Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

Once a year, on Ardbeg Day, the Ardbeg Distillery releases something new and special.  I've been lucky enough to take part in hosting Ardbeg Day in South Florida for a couple of years and those events are a ton of fun. This past July, my wife and I were down in that neck of the woods again visiting our friends at Fine Spirits Wine & Liquor in Cooper City. As it turned out, they were hosting a tasting of Drum, the newest Ardbeg Day release. 

There are two different releases of Drum.  One is a Committee Release at 52% ABV and other is the Limited Release, which is 46% ABV.  I was able to explore the general release. Regardless, Drum is a very special and unique release from this Islay distillery because while it isn't unusual for them to age their whisky in ex-Bourbon barrels, they've never then taken that and aged it again in ex-Rum casks. Drum carries no age statement, is non-chill filtered, and retails for about $110.00.

For the most part, I enjoy Ardbeg. There have been just a few "meh" releases that I've been very unimpressed with, particularly Auriverdes.  On the other hand, one of my favorite peated Scotches is Corryvrecken. As such, I'm coming into this review hoping to enjoy it but prepared for the worst. And that, of course, is all part of the #DrinkCurious lifestyle.  Let's get at it, shall we?

In my glass, Drum appeared as clear and pale, producing a thin rim and very fast legs that dropped back to the pool. 

Aromas of peat hit my nostrils before I got anywhere near the glass. That's something almost required from Ardbeg and in fact, I'd be curious and perhaps concerned if that quality was missing. Once I was able to get beyond the peat, there was a briny quality. Typical Islay whisky, right?  When I inhaled through my lips, there was a strong banana flavor that rolled across my tongue.

The mouthfeel was thick and coating despite the thin rim and speedy legs. On the front, Drum was a mix of flowers and sweet pineapple.  Mid-palate offered dark chocolate from the malted barley and a bit of vanilla. On the back, it was peat, brine, and citrus.  For the peat to show up on the back instead of the front is, at least in my opinion, uncommon. 

A long smoky, briny finish left my hard palate tingly. 

Bottle, Bar or Bust:  Before I get started on the rating, I want to give some insight as to what I observed during this Ardbeg event. Drum was a very polarizing whisky. I heard folks saying they loved it and others who were very disappointed. I think that's something very fair when a distillery comes out with something other than a me-too whisky. Ardbeg took a risk with Drum. I think it is obvious I found this one unique and I am in the camp of "loved it." Personally, I give it a Bottle rating and I'd happily purchase Drum.  If you've been following me long and our palates are fairly synched, buy it. However, because it is such a polarizing Scotch with a $110 price tag, I believe most folks should try Drum first and because of that, it will officially take a Bar rating.