Just a mythical bottle which, over the years, imposed itself as a reference amongst Ardbeg amateurs. A version this popular always leaves place to doubts, most of all concerning the label effect. The first pass “disappointed” me a bit. Let’s check it by the book, with airing, but it really is all about pleasing you…
Nose : Blimey, we feel that it has some under the hood! It is very greasy and thick. All is very melted and you really need to concentrate to untangle this promising creel. Peat wise, it is more subtle than a lot of releases from this distillery : we have shells (oyster shell), seaweed, camphor notes but also some petroleum input and a hint of smoke. By its side, we find some raspberry jelly, Granny Smith and polish as well as play dough. The profile isn’t strictly gourmet but it is of a great richness with a spicy lining (curry, chili) and a quite invigorating freshness (mint, eucalyptus, pine needle and seasoning … In short: the whole set). This cold air wanders along this quite condensed landscape. Whereas the start was maritime, we find ourselves with an entity which is more anchored inland, with dead leaves and those conifer smells, all in a damp vegetation. A beautiful forest under the rain comes to mind. The peat also becomes a bit farm fresh, with oil and salt residues. It loosened itself well, letting us catch a glimpse of liquorice, green olive (very Caol Ila like), caramelized pineapple and raspberry macaroons. Drops of water bring us a bit of candied orange and Ricola candies. Wow! Quite a nose, “like you don’t find anymore” if I wanted to slander.
Mouth : The texture is very smooth and the amplitude is here with more sweetness now. The peat is still faded, going on the sweetness of seaweed rather than on the virulence of hydrocarbons. Then we go again on raspberry, orange, tarte tatin with a pugnacious caramel but also a more vegetal peat. Freshness is here but seems to be on the background with a few pine needles and ginger. We feel a quite too punchy brown sugar supply, which tends to make it heavier than it could have been. Water allows to loosen a bit this glucose grip but underlines the link between vegetal peat and sugar. We are facing a more melted mouth, but still complex and with a remarkable delicacy. We particularly appreciate this refusal to yield to the peat, which unveils a more profound personality.
Finish : We end this tasting with a good length. We find some ashes, crème fraiche, green apple and again some polish. The spices are here on the aftertaste (curry, cinnamon) as well as smoke, camphor, mint, pine and liquorice. The holding is then excellent and we have a fresh sensation which endures.