I started out the week with a review of the first US release of the Ardbeg Provenance from 1998. That was a spectacular whisky, one of the best I’ve ever had. This is from the 4th release (and the third overall in the US) from 2000. So it’s a few years older (all the Provenance releases were of the 1974 vintage). Will it scale the heights of the other? Let’s get right to it and see.
The generous source of this sample can be identified just by looking at the label.
Ardbeg Provenance, 1974-2000 (55%; 4th release; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: A little “rounder” than the 1998 release but otherwise very similar: minerally peat, lemon, mustard seed, paraffin; a little bit more vanilla here perhaps. Gets brighter with a bit of air: drier smoke, salt; some wet stones too. Creamier and fruitier as it sits (apple again and slightly sweeter citrus). No lime pickle with water but more fruit instead: hints of apricot to go with the citrus; some candied ginger too.
Palate: Sweeter entry but then a lot of pepper (out-Taliskering Talisker) and some cumin as well; more robust than the 1998 release. The smoke is tarrier and there’s more char here as well. With more time there’s a lot more lemon. With water there’s more char still and some dark chocolate; then the lemon comes back strong.
Finish: Long. The pepper and the smoke expand in intensity and take forever to fade out. With water it’s the more expansive lemon that stands out.
Comments: This is like a bigger, smokier version of the 1998 release. Also exceptional stuff but while we’re splitting very fine hairs I’ll note that, tasted side by side, the more restrained charms of the 1998 appealed more.
Rating: 92 points.
Many thanks to Sku for the sample!