...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Single Malt Report: Ardbeg Taste Off (part 2 of 3) - Ardbeg Uigeadail

The Ardbeg Taste Off continues!

From Left to Right:
Ardbeg Ten (Part 1)
Ardbeg Uigeadail (Part 2)
Ardbeg Corryvreckan (Part 3)

Each glass held approximately 30mL (about 1 fl oz).  Each whisky was sampled neat.  First, after a 15 minute wait.  Then a second time, another 45 minutes later.


Ownership: Glenmorangie Plc (Moet Hennessy)
Age: unknown other than a mix of young stuff and old stuff
Maturation: ex-oloroso (35-45%) and ex-bourbon (remainder)
Region: Islay
Alcohol by Volume: 54.2%

What the hell is an Uigeadail?  And am I pronouncing right?

Nice to see you again Blue Text.  And very good questions.

Don't patronize me.  Just give me answers.


Uigeadail (pronounced Oog-a-dal) is the name of one of the nearby natural water sources for the Ardbeg distillery.  The name itself is Gaelic, meaning something like "dark and mysterious place".  Since the water from this dark and mysterious place goes into their final products, Ardbeg named this particular dark(er) curious alchemic malt in its honor.

Uigeadail's vowelicious.  Thank you.

You're welcome, now go back to bed.

Made up of 55-65% young whisky matured in ex-bourbon casks and 35-45% old whisky matured in ex-sherry casks, Ardbeg Uigeadail was first released in 2003.  It has since gathered considerable critical plaudits.  Jim Murray, in particular, has gone Oogy for Uigeadail, giving it his highest rating ever and naming it World Whisky of the Year in 2009.  The San Francisco World Spirits folks keeping dishing out awards for it.  Serge and the Malt Maniacs are quite fond of it as well.

When it first came out, Uigeadail was a mix of 10 and 13 year ex-bourbon matured whisky, along with some really old ex-sherry matured stuff from the 1970s.  No one except Ardbeg knows the current recipe.  But since 1970s Ardbeg malt is worth a bloody fortune, I doubt they're still putting it into the Oogs.  The distillery was closed from 1981 to 1989, then again in 1996 and 1997 -- so the older element in whisky is either from the very early '80s or early '90s.  Just guessing here.

They've been very good at wrapping this up as a 54.2% ABV dark and mysterious enigma.  That's fine with me as long as they keep putting this stuff out!

Check out all that good poison steaming up the glass.
Then a dark and mysterious reflection...
I don't have a bottle of this one (yet), so I obtained my taste via a sample purchase from Master of Malt.

Round 1 -- neat, 20+ minutes in the glass before tasting

The color is the darkest of the three whiskys (see first pic at the top), a dark gold with sherry rouge highlights.  The nose is tremendous.  I could smell this all day.  Apply carefully as aftershave then strut into the bar at 1:30am.  Sorry, tangent.  The nose starts with honey cinnamon cognac oak, a boozy gelato, molasses cookies.  Then it melts into chocolatey toffee and vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and brandy.  Peat doesn't dominate the palate, as it's well integrated with the whole.  Very malty with drippy caramel and rich cognac.  It finishes sweetly, but hearty.  Thick sugars, cinnamon, toffee, and rum-soaked cake.

Notes:  "...perfect dessert scotch for a cold night."  The best nose of the three whiskys.

Round 2 -- neat, 50+ minutes after the first round

The nose is of the richest vanilla ice cream, topped with fresh berries and chocolate sauce, served with spiced rum.  Then there's more chocolate, like Cadbury's with a peat syrup filling.  At the very end there's a seaside note.  Time has allowed the palate to come out to play.  Sherry and caramel sauce with citrus juice.  A dark berry syrup, mocha, and a sweet peat wallop.  The deliciousness carries over into the finish.  More sherry & peat, molasses & cinnamon, nutmeg, more mocha, and cigar smoke.  But the peat lingers the longest.

Final notes:  It's pretty f**king good.  No, really, it's giving the Corryvreckan a run for the title.

One thing I must stress:  I know that the notes were full of desserty adjectives, but this is a hefty peaty creature.  If you're looking for a non-peated thick dessert single malt for special occasions, I recommend searching out the Glenfarclas 105 or maybe one of the Glendronach casks (or 'farclas and 'dronach's regular ranges for those folks on a budget).

I will admit that this Taste Off is becoming a love-in, but just wait until I get to the Corry tomorrow.

Availability - Many liquor specialists
Pricing - Excellent at $60, I wouldn't pay more than $75
Rating - 94