...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Birthday Booze: Ardbeg 1978, bottled 1998

I had thought that this whisky, with its bottling code of L81244ML, was bottled in 2008 making it a ~30yo single malt. But after some research I discovered the 1978 vintage was only bottled between 1997 and 1999. So this sample that's been snoozing for goodness knows how long is of a ~20yo Ardbeg. On the bright side, my experiences with pre-LVMH Ardbeg are very positive. And though this old Ardbeg was diluted to 43%abv, I'm not too worried because I liked the ol' 30yo which was bottled at 40%abv.

Let's get to it. My next-to-last sample of 1978 whisky:

Distillery: Ardbeg
Owners at time of distilling: Hiram Walker and DCL
Region: Southern Islay
Maturation: refill casks of some sort
Vintage: 1978
Bottle code: L81244ML
Bottling year: 1998
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
(from a purchased sample)

The delicate nose seems devoid of oak. There's delicate peat, grapefruit and moss. Saline, Amaretto, pineapple, guava and a hint of hay. Old tractors rusting in the fields. The palate is much smokier. Peppercorns and citrus peels. Sea salt and very dark chocolate. Sweet tobacco in the background. It's simple, but very direct. It finishes with smoke and pepper. Hints of sugar, soot and engine exhaust. No tannins to be found.

It's like Port Ellen meets indie Bowmore, but young and with the volume turned way down. Unlike the aforementioned 30 year old, the low ABV does keep this whisky from lifting off. I will say this about the current ownership, they probably wouldn't have bottled this lower than 46%. On the other hand, they would cask-ed the hell of the spirit.

If you're eyeing this bottling on the secondary market and price is of no concern (which would have to be the case because Jeebus), then know that this whisky is of decent educational and historical interest, while also serving as a good moderately-peated whisky, but don't expect much more than that.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - anywhere from £400 to £1200
Rating - 87