Okay, let’s do a week on Islay. First up, a new Ardbeg. I don’t really follow whisky marketing anymore. Actually, I haven’t followed it at all for some time now. So I don’t know too much about this Ardbeg 8, which I believe was released last year and only available online from the distillery shop. As to whether it was just a one-off or if it’s going to become a regular release, I don’t know. Nor do I know how it’s made. With that promising introduction, let’s get into it.
Ardbeg 8 “For Discussion” (50.8%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Mellow ashy peat mixed with lemon on the first sniff. More phenolic on the second sniff and also far more coastal (brine, kelp). Sweeter notes emerge quickly as well (a touch of vanilla) even as the salt expands. A few drops of water push the ash and the lemon back and emphasize the sweeter notes—some malt here now with the vanilla. Some wet cement too now.
Palate: Comes in a little bit thin at first but then the smoke expands dramatically—a mix of charred and phenolic—turning tarrier as I swallow. Not the richest texture but perfectly suited to the flavour profile. The smoke gets drier with time. The citrus from the nose doesn’t quite make it here. Will water pull it out? Let’s see. No, it doesn’t really. It does push the tar back and brighten the smoke.
Finish: Long. The smoke keeps going, getting tarrier and inkier still as it goes. The salt comes back strong again at the end. As on the palate with water at first and then it gets sweeter here as well even as it picks up more char.
Comments: This is very good young peated whisky—no flaws as such. That said, I became less and less impressed with it with every sip, finding it a little too reliant on smoke alone. Unless it were priced a lot lower—which I doubt it would ever be—I can’t see any reason to buy this over the 10 yo. Though it is certainly better than most of Ardbeg’s high concept Ardbeg Day releases.
Rating: 86 points.