A black sheep? Cool marketing – and sheep being a logical link between Scotland’s Islay and New Zealand, from where the Pinot Noir red wine casks came from in which this Ardbeg was matured (Cloudy Bay, I would guess). The bottling is going to be released on March 3 commemorating twenty years of the Ardbeg Committee. Let’s see if Pinot Noir fits the Ultimate Islay peatster:
Comment: No worries, this is an Ardbeg nose, at first on the sooty and smoky side. Typical features like peat, iodine, antiseptic spray, tar, sulphur, leatherbag, hot transformator and green herbs are right here. However, the wine casks left their traces: somehow this Ardbeg is drier due to woody oak tannins (and cedar). Resin and more aromatic smokiness than usual. Also I am getting a rooty aroma that reminds me of small cask maturation. Later, strawberries, raspberries and cranberries chime in discretely. Nice and unusual, I must say.
On the palate the wine casks speak way louder. The tongue hits a dry oaky wall at first, tannins stripped the beloved Ardbeg sweetness in parts. Not as balanced and slender as usual. The elements unfortunately don’t integrate so well altogether.
The finish is a bit shorter than usually in terms of Ardbeg but it builds itself up nicely, smokily and sooty. If you like dry Islay styles, this is for you – but it departs from the typical south shore tipple. A good whisky but not en par with an Uigeadail or a Corry, if you ask me. But I like to try out new things, and this finds fans for sure. Taste and decide for yourself, don’t follow the herd: „Baaaaaah!“, goes the sheep, tame in nature, shorn to be wild.