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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Single Malt Report: Ardbeg Day

And this was right about when I got on the Ardbeg Train. I had experienced better-than-current-era Corryvreckan and Uigeadail about a half year before I attended my first Ardbeg Day event, in 2012, and was totally sold on the Ardbeg brand. At that Ardbeg Day event, the reps revealed the new Ardbeg limited release called......Ardbeg Day. I liked the whisky a lot, but when trying it next to Corry and Oogy, it landed in third place. The special releases were all downhill from there.

Distillery: Ardbeg
Ownership: Glenmorangie Plc (owned by LVMH)
Type: Single Malt
Region: Islay
Product: Day
Age: NAS
Maturation: two different vintage (or "styles") first aged in ex-bourbon casks, then married together in ex-Uigeadail casks for 6 months
Limited bottling: 12,000
Bottling year: 2012
Alcohol by Volume: 56.7%
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? No
(Thanks to Whisky Brett P. for most of the samples this week!!!)

The nose starts with loads of fruit and honey. Apricots and golden raisins. A floral peat (reminiscent of well-aged Longrow), then ocean-salty peat. Soil. Chocolate, dark berries, clay and baklava with honey. The palate holds dried apricots and roses. Very salty peat and smoked pork. Ethyl heat, a nice bitter bite and a slight industrial element. Its big warm finish is fruity sweet, with eucalyptus, salt and mothballs.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose is more herbal and milk chocolatey. Hints of tar and floral peat. Lots of fresh plum and apricot. It gets smokier with time. There's bigger peat on the palate. Dark chocolate with dried raspberries. A mild honey sweetness and a hint of peppery mints leaves. It finishes with dark smoldering peat. Salt, sweet, soot and a great sharp edge.

This is getting fun. A little more water, perhaps?

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose keeps getting smokier and smokier. Bye bye fruits. Hello bus exhaust. Big bitter herbal smoke on the palate. Salt, lemons and a tiny bit of sugar. The finish is a little sweeter, with some wood smoke.

Though I regularly tweak Lumsden and his blending teams, I must commend them on their good work here, because this is excellent whisky, a special release that's actually special. It's much fruitier and prettier than the regular range. The palate is straightforward, while the nose is complex. The whisky takes to water very well, gradually becoming more recognizable as modern Ardbeg as it's diluted. It didn't rock my world five years ago because I just wanted nuclear peat back then, and Day's subtlety was wasted on me. Man, I wish I bought a bottle then. I would have appreciated it more now.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - $300-$500, holy craps
Rating - 89