Warning: today’s write up is going to contain much whisky geekery, a bit of a departure from our normal, more approachable style. Just go with it. Revel in it.
Ardbeg Distillery enjoys a strong and devoted following from the world of whisky enthusiasts. Their fans will buy anything they release at any price. But even the fans need something different. We reviewed the 10 Year Old, and we loved it, but we’re curious to see what this base whisky can expand to. Counter-intuitively, Ardbeg is considered a lighter spirit in terms of body compared to other highly peated brands. While the peating level of 54ppm is the strongest on Islay, their stills are designed to produce a large amount of reflux from the slightly upward angle of their lyne arm and additional purifier appendage. Rising vapors condense when they hit the cool copper surfaces and thusly trickle back down to be re-distilled. Along with the purifier appendage producing even more reflux from the heavier alcohols, this means the resulting spirit is mostly stripped of heavier elements and allows more fruitiness and sweetness to emerge. This, my friends, is one of the ways Ardbeg is Ardbeg. Geekery finished, too.
Today we look at Ardbeg Uigeadail, a whisky launched in 2003 as a cask strength (54.2% ABV) no age statement expression that sought to utilize the distillery’s older sherry aged stock. Uigeadail, named after a nearby loch that supplies a great deal of water for the distillery, is comprised of young American oak aged Ardbeg blended with older sherry aged spirit (about 35 to 45 percent of the final expression). Uigeadail is Ardbeg’s attempt at showcasing what sherry sweetness can do while matched up with 54ppm peating levels. Say no more. Let’s get to it…
SWC Group Review
Nose- The peat/smoke is ever present but not intense. Sweet cigar box, deliciously smoked meat. Creamy vanilla with some caramel popcorn. Nice oak, toffee. Subtle fruit. Wonderful stuff.
Taste- Thick, buttery mouth feel. Sweet sherry, dates/raisins. Spice with burnt meat. Luscious.
Finish- Long explosion of spice/fruit/smoke. Waves of flavor.
Comments- One of the best tasting whiskies you’ll find. High ABV is well integrated. A Viking feast of a whisky. Highly recommended.
SWC Rating – 92/100
Avg. retail – $80
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.