Ardbeg hails from a Scotch whisky distillery of the same name, on the south coast of the isle of Islay and not far from the home of Laphroaig – in fact, both distilleries were officially founded in 1815.
And being Islay single malts, they both share that characteristically bold, smoky, peaty taste. Ardbeg's 'Dark Cove' Committee Release develops that richly flavoured baseline with a complexity that seems to tell a story in itself.
Ardbeg 'Dark Cove' Committee Release
Colour: The darkest Ardbeg ever? It's certainly darker than the regular line-up, but not quite El Diablo territory and not as dark as some recent SMWS bottlings. Deep amber.
Nose: Rich, creamy peat... loads of peat, in fact. But it's 'coastal; peat, which identifies itself with more maritime notes and less 'campfire' than you may expect. Banana lollies, too, and an overall freshness. At a guess I'd say there's a fair amount of youngish Ardbeg in here.
Palate: Big, rich and chewy. Peaty caramels. There's definite sherry influence, with red berries and a hint of mocha, but also a younger, fresher, sweeter character – licorice all sorts, musk sticks, all stitched together with loads of coastal peat.
Finish: Long and coastal-smoky. Fish nets, oysters, brine. With water comes a slightly earthier smoke. A hint of tannins at the end.
Rating: 91/100. Another very enjoyable Ardbeg, one with a younger, stronger peat influence than some of the previous Ardbeg bottlings.
Details: 55% ABV, A$150
Also read: Three great whiskies to buy duty-free
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