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Monday, March 29, 2021

Ardbeg 5 year old Wee Beastie (2020 US Release)

The world does not need an Ardbeg cluster, and you and I live in that world.


Welcome to two weeks of Ardbeg!

First up, I have this here sample of the only <20yo Ardbeg recent release I've had any interest in, their non-NAS (double negative) Wee Beastie. Though other distilleries have previously used 5-year-old age statements, it's nice to see this from a brand that hurls out NAS releases in a perpetual blur.

Distillery: Ardbeg
Ownership: Glenmorangie Plc (owned by LVMH)
Region: Islay
Age: minimum 5 years old
Maturation: bourbon casks and oloroso sherry casks
Alcohol by Volume: 47.4%
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? No
(from a bottle split)


Nice bright barley notes shine through the nose's peat. A mix of cocoa powder, anise and pear juice hides in the background behind a curious meeting of ultra-briny shellfish and MDP-style pickle juice. It feels more like a single unit once reduced to 40%abv, and it gains notes of lemon, mint leaf, basil leaf and a touch of yeast.

The palate is lightly sweet, with minimal mezcal. "Loots of soot and salt," per my written notes. Hints of bitter and tart citrus merge with black pepper and mint leaves in the midground. Just a peep of vanilla bean in the back. It gets sweeter and calmer when diluted to 40%abv, while gaining some grassiness and a good herbal bitterness.

Salt, pepper, soot and tangy citrus stretch out across the warm finish. While dropping it to 40%abv, doesn't change much, other than getting saltier and limier.


This is better than my last two bottles of Ardbeg Ten, which is good news for the Beastie and me. Five years younger and five bucks cheaper than the Ten here in Ohio, the Wee Beastie makes for a much better starter peated Islay than Laphroaig's Select. This Ardbeg isn't going to inspire you to run out and buy a case, but its style is remarkably restrained considering its age and its distillery. A very pleasant surprise.

Availability - Widely available in Europe and USA
Pricing - $40-$50
Rating - 85