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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Ardbeg 18 year old 1993 Murray McDavid Mission Gold

I have said unkind things about Murray McDavid in the past. But I come here hoping to praise MMcD, not to bury it. When they don't play drunken games with their wine casks, instead of letting a whisky just be, the results can be great. The results can also be disappointing but we're not going to talk about that.

Here's an 18 year old Ardbeg, distilled by Allied Lyons and aged entirely in a bourbon cask (likely a hogshead). Good elements here.

Distillery: Ardbeg
Owners at time of distilling: Allied Lyons
Region: Southern Islay
Bottler: Murray McDavid
Brand: Mission Gold
Maturation: bourbon cask
Age: 18 years (1993 - 2011)
Outturn: 245 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 56.9%
(from a purchased sample)


The nose begins with chalk and earth, and hints of mangoes and smoked fish. The rich peat reads more toasted than burnt. Notes of mint leaves, baked apples and figs(!) gradually appear. It gains an iodine note after 45 minutes. Something fascinated happens once the whisky is reduced to 46%abv, it turns into Hampden rum, full of olives and diesel. Smaller notes of rosemary, pine and fermenting apples fill out the background.

Heavy salty and medicinal notes meet berry pie filling in the palate, and it works. Bitter orange peels and lemon juice arrive as the whisky opens with time. The palate goes Hampden when diluted to 46%abv as well. Olives, diesel and butterscotch.

It finishes with salt, chiles and limes. Quite some length to it. The reduced-to-46%abv version matches the diluted nose and palate.


When you hear much-experienced whisky drinkers make the "X is the new Ardbeg" comparison, I'm pretty sure this Ardbeg hints at what they're talking about. It's a reductive statement, and there are now a few whisky generations who haven't had higher-tier Ardbeg, but I can see how it works and can understand the comparison. As noted above, this single malt goes Ardbeg → Hampden. And it's excellent on both sides of the arrow. It must have been a great pleasure to consume a bottle of this.

Speaking of reductive:

Availability - ???
Pricing - ???
Rating - 90

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