Review: Ardbeg 13 y.o. G&M for Intertrade 1975 – 1988, Sherry Cask, 543 btl., 54,2%

Photo: L. Langer (link) - Thanks! His shop is worth a visit!

It was a hard day, so I need a bit of a treat. Mmmmh, let’s go for Islay power, an Ardbeg. But a special one: How about a bottling from the good old days, complex, but bottled at young age…the choices get narrower – maybe even at cask strength … and sherried … extremely hard to find. As I go through my samples I suddenly hold this nice specimen in my hand:


Ardbeg 13 y.o. Gordon & Macphail for Intertrade, 26 June 1975 – 13 July 1988, 543 btl., 75cl, 54,2%

This might save my day. I remember it as very powerful and pleasantly sulphury – in its very own style. As I am pouring the reddish-ambered liquid there is an astonishing viscosity visible. The aroma quicky fills the room, wow, the peaty cavalry comes through. Let’s see if it turns out well (the day and the Ardbeg) …

Nose: Close to perfection, I could smell this forever. Islay freshness at first. The elegance of Sherry traces (dark fruits, dark European oak) meets the raw peat-iodine-sulphur-combo (gunpowder-cavalry again), but all that in great complexity and depth, not only on primary in-your-face notes. Whatever you look for in an Islay Whisky is there! And more: fine tobacco, high-end chocolate, pepper and spice and roasted coffee as well, but nothing is disjointed or bitter – all aromas blow into the same horn, so to speak. OBF (Old bottle flavour)  rounds off this killer.

Palate: Oh my God. It is as good as I feared it to be. Full on, but also elegant and round – this malt builds a bridge between these opposites. Maybe it is the ‚in-between-age‘. All is there again with a slightly dry entry. Flints, peat, sulphur, iodine, gunpowder, Sherry, dark fruit, spicy chocolate, tires, malt, Culatello ham and fine wood build a tower on the mid-palate. No water!

Finish: Let’s play ’spot the weakness‘. It might not have the longest and most sustaining of all finishes, but it still is quite long and really impressive. It is a simplified copy of the nose that comes in waves like at the Southern coast of its natural mother. Jolly good.

Score: 94-

Comment: Great great Ardbeg, and I love the medium-age effect in this one. It has made my day! Thank God it was a 4cl-sample: 2 cl left for me to savour without taking stupid notes 😉 .

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