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Expression Session — Tasting Five Whiskies In The Ardbeg Portfolio

If you love peaty whisky, this post is for you. Ardbeg has been producing the smoky stuff since 1798 on the island of Islay in western Scotland. The small distillery has only two stills and sits right on the sea. It’s literally everything you think of when you think of a sea-washed Scottish distillery.

Last week, we went on Instagram to taste through Ardbeg’s main expressions with podcast host and travel writer Mike Schibel. Our tasting started with Ardbeg’s new expression, Wee Beastie, and ended with this year’s special release of Blaaack. It was an hour-or-so long whirlwind of some of the tastiest, smokiest, and award-winning peaty scotches on the market today.

There are no musician tie-ins here. No gimmicks. This is just damn-fine whisky that’ll help you fall in love with the peatier side of the whisky world.

Ardbeg Wee Beastie

ABV: 47.4%
Average Price: $50

The Whisky:

This is a very new expression from Ardbeg (it was released in April of 2020). The juice is aged for only five years in both ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso sherry casks before marrying for the final product. The idea is to give a sense of the quality of the peaty juice from Port Ellen’s malting house.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a sharp sense of alcohol and peat up top with a hint of fruitiness. The fruit leans more pear, with a flourish of vanilla behind a real brininess and mild(ish) notes of peat. The rawness of the peaty tar sticks to your senses as a hint of smoked bacon fades alongside the fruit, brine, and peat.

Ardbeg Ten

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $60

The Whisky:

This is Ardbeg’s signature bottle and a true gateway to the peaty style of single malt scotches. The real highlight with this expression is the peat via sherry casking. It’s truly a classic.

Tasting Notes:

Smoke, fruit, and a hint of lemon zest lead the way. There’s a sense of black pepper spice, smoked meat, plenty of brine, a dose of vanilla, and a whisper of nuttiness. A sense of bitterness and a touch of licorice come into play as the sip very, very slowly fades through the smoke, nuttiness, and fruit.

Ardbeg Uigedail

ABV: 54.2%
Average Price: $90

The Whisky:

Pronounced “Oog-A-Dal,” this expression is all about being “dark and mysterious” — much like the lake the distillery pulls its water and the name of this expression from. The juice is a mix of single malts from both ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks and is bottled at cask strength.

Tasting Notes:

Smoked fruit and Christmas spices greet you with a hint of florals and… maybe even bananas. The dram has a fruity sweetness that counterpoints the heavier smoky nature of the sip. The sip opens up wonderfully with a drop of water as the spices, smoke, and fruit all balance each other out deftly. The sip ends quickly but with a nice dose of warmth.

Ardbeg Corryvrecken

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $100

The Whisky:

This whisky is named after the world’s second-largest ocean whirlpool, called Corryvrecken. The juice in the bottle is Ardbeg Ten blended with single malt that’s been aged exclusively in new French Limousin casks.

Tasting Notes:

Moments of spice, vanilla, brown sugar, and dark, tart fruit open this sip. Sea salt, black pepper, dark spices, and more tart berries mingle on the palate. The subtly of the sip hints at florals as and almost dark chocolate feeling arrives late on the lingering, peppery finish.

Ardbeg Blaaack

ABV: 46%
Average Price: $130

The Whisky:

Ardbeg’s Blaaack is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year. This specialty and very-limited release was aged in Pinto Noir casks from New Zealand this time around, adding a very plummy depth to the dram.

Tasting Notes:

Cedar, mushroom umami, mild smoke, cherry, vinous red wine, and a hint of citrus zest greet your nose. The sip is texturally reminiscent of velvet with plenty of peaty smoke, brine, ripe and sweet fruits, a vinous note, and powdery dark chocolate. The velvet texture of the sip really grabs your senses as the bitter chocolate, fruit, and spice fade out over time and another rush of peat and cedar flood the senses.

Check out the full tasting below!

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