These two experimental Ardbeg releases tickled my fancy from the moment I learned from them. I am curious how an Ardbeg tastes if there is no purifier used (Heavy Vapours) or what the effect of enhanced use of active coal (like with Alligator, Scorch and such) is.
The latter one I could taste recently. Ardbeg states: „The connection to the topic of barbecue is not only made by the smoky notes of the peated malt, but also by the element of fire: double charred Pedro Ximénez sherry casks and specially developed „BBQ casks„, which were extra charred in an old-fashioned brazier, help the Ardbeg BizarreBQ to a special sweet-spicy-smoky aroma.“ – I found this dram successful and round, quite sooty and the pronounced notes of sweet smoke fit well. 90 points – although I categorize this as a typical version close to an Uigeadail, yet slightly more BBQ-ish.
ARDBEG ‚HEAVY VAPOURS‘ 46%
For Ardbeg Planet Day 2023 (June 3rd, online already on May 23rd) the release of Heavy Vapours is scheduled, the stronger Committee Version comes online tomorrow (25.04.), both at a price point of 135 Euro.
This expression has been distilled without the influence of their usual purifier being present on the still. The spirit has been laid down to mature in ex-bourbon casks. The purifier-apparatus on the still is responsible for maintaining Ardbeg’s balance between extreme peat and floral fruitiness as it catches „heavy vapours“ and redistilles them. Without it, what will happen?
Actually, I find the difference way smaller than expected. The ‚Heavy Vapours‘-release remains a classic and flawless Ardbeg, and it is round! The nose sports more coffee, chocolate and coal smoke than usual. There is also a greenish touch in the aroma (Mezcal-agave, Aloe, hops), but this stems more from its young age, I guess. Hot transformers, gun cleaner oil, chalk, tar, iodine, tires, earthy peat, antiseptic spray and more Ardbeggian insanity complete the intriguing nose. It tastes even more ‚ardbeggy‘ as I thought. No rough edges here, maybe a tad less sweet, more bittersweet I dare say. Smoke wafting in and out, nice dustiness, darker. An interesting yet not dramatically different Ardbeg experience. 89 points.