Nose: It took over the room just from one glass. Peat, of course, though filled with much more. The sweet vanilla comes out from the ex-bourbon casks with a peppery edge followed by the smell I used to get from an opened pack of Skittles. Mixed fruits, but the type from candy, not fresh fruit!
Palate: The vanilla stands out initially, and now the pepper and peat is turning into a sweeter mix of spice and sugared lemons (kind of like adding a spoonful of sugar to the top of a lemon half, and then licking). A tinge of bitterness on the back palate as it moves towards the finish. I feel the Marsala kicking in now.
Finish: The spice and pepper are going away, leaving the peat and some bitter citrus (in a good way, if that makes sense) to linger for a bit. Longer finish than the 'Day'.
Overall: Very surprised I like it considering I haven't liked whisky from ex-Marsala before. Dr. Bill will really be testing my allegiance if he does a Tokaji Finish. :)
Tasted blind: N: Very winey, cereal, toasted malts and bbq brisket. This smells sour and off. P: Good texture. Starts off smokey and campfirey. Leads way to a rubbery tarry note but has some heather and leather mixed in. F: Rubbery yet waxy lingering finish.
Tasted blind HTHTH against the Corryvreckan and Day. I found this to be the lightest of the bunch. This was very wierd and off putting. The flavors didnt play well together. I was looking forward to this as Ardbeg finally put out an AGE statement release. But I'm leaving it on shelves.
I tried this 3 other times after the blind tasting. It is very unbalanced due to the big winey notes that overpower. I've confirmed my dislike for the marsala in it. I even tried vatting this with other ardbegs (ANB, Corry, Day,Oogie, Rollercoaster). I found the marsala ruined them all.
n: Compared to other Ardbegs (which I have done extensively now), this one has less of the classic earthy and rich nose and leans more toward dark fruits and mustiness. I don't think I'd pick this as an Ardbeg completely blind. It's not bad, but its cousins are better.
p: For a second or so it's Ardbeg again (yay!), then it veers off course (boo!) The word dank (thanks Fuji) springs to mind. It reminds me of something gone stale. Sure there's a splash of sweet peppery Ardbeg at first, but from the 1 second mark to the end it's just, well, annoying.
The nose on this is very nice with some typical Ardbeg notes as well as some smoked fish. Unfortunately, it really falls apart on the palate. It starts off with very sweet wine notes, sweetens to Kool Aid levels, then comes a weird sort of spice on the tail. The finish is short, which is odd for Ardbeg, and slightly spicy with light peat.
I've pretty loyally tried the official Ardbeg releases over the past few years and I can honestly say this is the one I've liked least of any Ardbeg official bottling I've had. There is a weird spicy note (possibly from the Marsala) and a strong sweetness with regular Ardbeg notes in the background. There is just something about it that doesn't work for me.
This has been trashed in one of the whisky circles I'm part of -- "puketastic" was the preferred term -- so it's fair to say I approached this open tasting with some bias.
Given that, I was pleasantly surprised.
Initially this is a satisfying, peaty, sweet dram. I mean, like it really hits the spot for me. Nose of musty sweet peat and oily smoke. Palate is very sweet, very "full" and oily in the mouth. But that sweetness is a veneer -- it gives way to a kind of "nothingness" that's flat and bitter.
The short finish exposes some incoherence, though it never pushes me away like a truly terrible finish can. It does get worse as it opens up, revealing wet dog in the nose and an overall flatter, more bitter palate.
I do like sweeter whiskies and while this one is kinda odd, I like it.