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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Ardbeg 13 year old 2005 Chieftain's, cask 700163

One way to get back into single malt scotch reviews is to dive nose-first into three Ardbegs. Indie Ardbegs, in fact.

I said goodbye to Chieftain's more than three years ago and, oh look, here's my second post-Chieftain's Chieftain's review (with at least two more to try in the future). That means, of course, that this review isn't even remotely timely. Diving for Pearls is nothing if not consistent.

Cue the Ardbeg!

Distillery: Ardbeg
Owner: LVMH
Region: Southern Islay
Independent Bottler: Ian McLeod
Range: Chieftain's
Age: 13 years old (April 2005 - September 2018)
Maturation: Hogshead
Cask number: 700163
Outturn: 328 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
(from a bottle split)


It reads almost like Caol Ila on the nose. No soot, but lots of ocean, seaweed, and oysters. Grapefruit and brown sugar. Lemon bars and cinnamon-loaded applesauce. But oh is it modern Ardbeg on the palate, so heavy on the bitter soot. There are some hints of dark chocolate, earth, and sweetness, but it's mostly soot. It finishes savory and peppery, sooty and salty.

DILUTED to ~42%abv, or ½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The fruit moves forward and the beach retreats in the gentle nose. Not much change in the palate, though. In fact it's even more monolithic, one dark big pile of soot. Just a little bit of mint in the background, maybe. The finish gets pepperier, bitterer, and mintier.


Great nose! Not great palate. It smelled closer to Caol Ila, Bowmore, and Allied-era Ardbeg, which was a thrill thwarted by the nearly one dimensional flavor. Perhaps this would have appealed to me more, like, twelve years ago, when gigantic peat was still exciting to me. Now, I'd be happy just to nose this while outdoors in autumn. Your own peat mileage may vary.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - around $200, even in 2018
Rating - 82 (palate is in the 70s)