Wow, it’s been quite a few weeks since I posted any whisky reviews. I’ve been busy with a work project, and while I’ve had my fair share of drams, and taken notes here and there, I just didn’t find the time to write an actual blog post. My plan now is to quickly post a series of notes on core Islay expressions.
In January, I read Serge’s great post about reviewing whiskies and establishing “benchmarks” for yourself on WhiskyFun.com. For the most part, I think I’ve done basically what he talked about in that article when reviewing whiskies. When I take tasting notes, it’s in a controlled, consistent environment. I always compare with familiar expressions, and I have personal “benchmark” expressions for different types/regions of whisk(e)y.
Ardbeg 10 has been an Islay benchmark for me over the past two years. However, after reading Serge’s post, I realized that I never actually wrote up my notes and provided a score on this expression. So here we go…
Ardbeg 10 (2010; 46%; $50)Nose: A combination of sweets and wood smoke, like eating smores at a camp fire. Some fruit (leaning towards citrus) and vanilla are also present. Palate: Big and oily, turning peppery as it works towards the back of the tongue. Bottling at 46% was a wise decision! Don’t confuse “big” with rough, though. This is actually a pretty smooth customer. Finish: Continued pepper on the tongue, and the camp fire comes back up through the nostrils. In fact, it’s as if the wind shifted and the smoke blew right in your face and stuck to your nose hairs. As the finish very, very slowly dies down, I feel like there is a hint of licorice or anise present. This is a flavor that I’m generally not fond of, but this whisky is so good overall, I’m able to work around it.
Comments: Relatively light in color, but deep and brooding at heart, I think Ardbeg 10 is the perfect drink for sitting in a cabin in the woods during the winter, near a fire and reading a book. It’s well rounded, smoky, and big without being overwhelming. I’ve had two bottles of this…one from 2006, and this 2010 bottle. From my notes, I found the two to be very similar. This expression is deserving of the many accolades it receives, and truly is a benchmark Islay whisky. Obviously, not an expression for the anti-smoke crowd. This is on the high side of a B rating for me; 86 points.