The Twenty Something Series has impressed me so far. Especially the 23 y.o. was a stunner and showed that 1990s Ardbegs age well and bear many resemblances to older drams (but not the same, though) from the distillery. Pricewise they are still acceptable (this is 480 Euro), some Independent Bottlers charged more. I think, price is not an issue with such rare drams – if you are a devotee, you need to have it. Bang for your buck, nope, but history and education for your tastebuds.
The 22 y.o. is from spring 1996 and was matured in Bourbon barrels only. I hope it can stand up to a wonderful Cadenhead Ardbeg with similar stats we recently had. Let’s taste it:
Comment: I had it on three occasions and it presented itself slightly different each time. Overall, it is a soft and sweeter Ardbeg, one for big sips, not too loud, very rounded, a dram for the second helping. Give it time and it will reward you. It brings old as well as new Ardbeg character to the table, a real mix that is not as “beasty” as usual, more on the fruity side of things. However, it has the classic profile in its DNA, but if you are into pressure on your palate, this isn’t for you. It starts on coal, sweet smoke, vanilla, freshly sawn firs, Mezcal, Granny Smith apples, green tea with bitter elements, tar, kiwi, lemon drop, chalk and white pepper – plus the peat, tar, burnt trafo and iodine. All that is balanced and shy. On the mild palate, leather and apples take center stage, chalk and peat meet fruits. It is complex and tightly woven together, discrete, no powerhouse but one to drink another glass. Maybe it is easy to miss and tired in moments, but I like it for its special character and smooth style.