Many people talk their mouths fuzzy about the 20 y.o. dark Ardbeg 1991 that has just been released by MoS for the Bero hotel. That inspired me to post two other dark Ardbegs today – the Kingsbury 1967 versions – Serge Valentins favourite expressions. Kingsbury has an amazing track record in bottling fine drams. So let’s see what their flagships are capable of. Before we cut to the chase, I tasted a nice Brora 30 to warm up my tastebuds for the rare treat.
Brora 30 y.o. OB 1979 – 2009, 2652 btl., 53,2%
Nose: A bit aggressive at first, a peaty heat comes from the glass (chili, black and white pepper), green apples, peaches, lemons, medicinical iodine, leather, maritime freshness, vanilla, herbs and weeds, candlewax, sugared egg-cream (dessert).
Palate: Peatier and deeper in character than the nose suggested, no water needed; The fruits manage to hold on to the spicy ride. Wonderful fight between the peat-, the spice- and the fruit-related combo!
Finish: Peat, iodine, green apples, bandaid, slightly sulphury, chalk. Very long.
Comment: Another great Brora, that seems slightly Clynelish in character, but with more peat and spice. Thanks to Flo for the sample.
Ardbeg 29 y.o., 1967 – 1996, Sherry Cask 923, 52%
Nose: Dark not only in colour, I get mahogani wood, Sherry of the finest kind, peat, pepper, moss, roots, herbs (catnip, lemon balm verbena, even chamomile!), forest honey, dark fruits of all kind, old tires, Culatello ham, dark chocolate and nougat, espresso, tobacco, Vermouth, Pu Erh-tea, a dusty wooden boathouse at the seaside on a hot summer day. Really unusual.
Palate: Utterly complex, like a mix of 1970 Ardbeg, Port Charlotte and a dash of Black Bowmore, with the notes from above, but fruitier, also wet plank. It displays a real pleasant taste of its own. Don’t let water come close within a mile 😉
Finish: Long, satisfying, peaty, sulphury (my beloved children’s gun sulphur), dark fruits (plums!), nougat honey, fir resin and what not. Goes on forever.
Comment: Rather unusual Ardbeg (but there IS distillery character, don’t get me wrong), but high class and very original. I like it, but it is not my favourite expression of the distillery. I also loved the 1972, 1973 and 1974 Kingsbury Ardbegs, esp. the 1974 was exactly my style!
Comment: I had this one in Limburg „live“ with some friends at the Dutch Connection stand, so no full notes, sorry. It deserved the same score but it had more Sherry influence (making it fruitier – even with some berries – and nuttier) and less honey, as I think back. It also seemed slightly more approachable and elegant (so 94 without the „-„, but both bottlings are unique and legendary! Try them if you can.