Ardbeg 10 Year Old Islay Single Malt Whisky is perhaps the most widely distributed of Ardbeg’s core range of whisky (the others being Corrywreckan, An Oa and Uigeadail). It is a classic Islay Single Malt Whisky, intense and smoky with nuances of sea spray, and was famously named World Whisky of the Year in 2008 by whisky expert Jim Murray.
The Ardbeg distillery was officially founded in 1815 by the MacDougall family. It has seen a chequered history and struggled through the 1970s until it was mothballed in 1981. There was some sporadic production in the years thereafter until 1997 when Ardbeg was taken over by Glenmorangie Plc which was then owned by Pernod Ricard. Today the distillery (along with Glenmorangie) is owned by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy and grows from strength to strength. The Ardbeg distillery is located on the most southerly part of the island of Islay.
Ardbeg are most famous for their heavily peated but perfectly balanced whiskies. They use the most phenolic malt (smokiest) from maltings in Port Ellen. The grain is milled at the distillery and made into a mash which is then fermented in Oregon Pine wash backs prior to distillation. The unusual spirit still, with its purifier, thought to be the only one on Islay is what many believe contributes to this balance and complexity. The spirit is finally aged in ok casks from many sources. These are primarily ex-Bourbon, first and second fill, but many other cask types are used too. As the distillery sits very close to the sea, the whisky receives a certain salty, iodine character while it matures.
Ardbeg 10 Year Old Islay Single Malt Whisky one of the peatiest, smokiest, most complex single malts, yet it does not flaunt the peat; rather it gives way to the natural sweetness of the malt to produce a whisky of perfect balance. Non chill-filtered and bottled at 46% ABV which helps retain maximum flavour, whilst at the same time giving more body and added depth.
Colour: Light Gold
Aroma: A burst of intense smoky fruit escapes into the atmosphere – peat infused with zesty lemon and lime, wrapped in waxy dark chocolate. Bold menthol and black pepper slice through the sweet smoke followed by tarry ropes and graphite. Savour the aroma of smoked fish and crispy bacon alongside green bell peppers, baked pineapple and pear juice.
Add water and an oceanic minerality brings a breath of cool, briny seaspray. Waxed lemon and lime follows with coal tar soap, beeswax and herby pine woodlands. Toasted vanilla and sizzling cinnamon simmer with warm hazelnut and almond toffee.
Taste: An explosion of crackling peat sets off millions of flavour explosions: peat effervesces with tangy lemon and lime juice, black pepper pops with sizzling cinnamon-spiced toffee. Then comes a wave of brine infused with smooth buttermilk, ripe bananas and currants. Smoke gradually wells up on the palate bringing a mouthful of warm creamy cappuccino and toasted marshmallows. As the taste lengthens and deepens, dry espresso, liquorice root and tarry smoke develop coating the palate with chewy peat oils.
Finish: The finish goes on and on. Long and smoky with tarry espresso, aniseed, toasted almonds and traces of soft barley and fresh pear.