Islay week continues. After starting at Bowmore on Monday we’ll now move down to the south coast for the remaining reviews of the week. And after a bourbon cask release to start the week we’ll head into deep, sherried territory. First up, a bottle from the 2007 release of the Ardbeg Uigeadail. In 2007 the Uigeadail was not new—the first release was in 2003—but it was certainly not the familiar name it has since become to fans of the distillery and of heavily peated whisky. The distillery itself was only in the early stages of its comeback. The release of the new 10 year old, distilled after the purchase and revitalization of the distillery in 1997 by Glenmorangie PLC, was still a year away. And the Uigeadail itself would not become a major sensation till 2009 when that sexist asshole in a Panama hat named it his pick for the best whisky in the world or whatever. Of course, in malt whisky lore, the golden age of the Ardbeg Uigeadail was already behind it then! It’s the releases from 2003 and 2004 that are famous for containing old sherried Ardbeg from1970s casks in them. But even if that time was gone by 2007, the Uigeadail of that era was rather excellent indeed. I want to say that this is the last of several bottles I’d purchased at the time but my usually trusty spreadsheet fails me. This is one of very few whiskies for which I have not recorded the place or date of purchase or a price. As I do have all that information recorded for my remaining bottles of the 2010 and 2013 releases I’m guessing this was not purchased alongside them. Anyway, what I have recorded is the score I gave the previous bottle—finished before I started the blog—and on that basis I am expecting to enjoy this very much. Let’s get to it.
See here, by the way, for a blind tasting I did back in 2015 of bottles from the 2011 and 2014 releases.
Ardbeg Uigeadail, 2007 Release (54.2%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Big phenolic peat (ink, tar, charred rope, dettol) run through with rich sherry notes of orange peel and fruitcake. Gets more savoury as it sits (chocolate-covered bacon) and then quite a bit of salt pops out as well. Water softens it up a bit, pulling the malt out here as well along with some toffee.
Palate: Comes in with drier but no less intense and no less phenolic smoke than on the nose. Very approachable at full strength with rich texture. A fair bit of citrus here as well (orange peel) and a fair bit of salt. With time the whole becomes richer here as well with some roasted malt coming through. Okay, let’s add a bit of water. Ah, it brings out more of the sherry, making the whole sweeter and richer still.
Finish: Long. The smoke goes on and on turning more phenolic as it goes. More citrus here too with time (more lemon than orange peel) and the char picks up as well. As on the palate with water and there’s some cracked pepper too now.
Comments: This is just lovely stuff with wonderful balance of peat and sherry. The peat is big but it’s not a one-note peat monster like many that followed from Islay in the ensuing decade and a half. I have no idea why I kept this bottle around for so long but I’m glad I found and opened it now. If you have one saved too open it up and pair it with a good dark chocolate (70% and up).
Rating: 90 points.