As it turns out, my children’s pediatrician is a graduate of the University of Glasgow and quite the fan of Scotch whisky, and so now, I no longer dread the headache of managing four children in the doctor’s office because each time they need medicine, I am treated to a little bit of intellectual medicine of my own.
The last time we visited I was surprised to discover that, although we had conversed quite fully regarding blends versus single-malts, the various distilleries that produce the plethora of editions, and all of the regalia within Scotland’s rich heritage that each of us intended, at some point, to fully enjoy, strangely we’d never really talked about which editions were our particular favorites. With that, I learned that Ardbeg is his preferred Scotch.
I’ve never had the opportunity to try Ardbeg, not because I didn’t know of its existence, but primarily because my local suppliers don’t usually carry it. So, when I happened upon a stray bottle here in Fenton recently, I bought it and took it home.
I recently offered reviews for the Laphroaig 10 year old and the 18 year old, and they were surprisingly excellent to this highland-single-malt snob. In all honesty, I must give Laphroaig the credit for enticing me to the smoky side of whisky revelry. However, ultimately, as in all things, God deserves the fuller credit. And I think that the Almighty, in His divine and providential care, led me through the Red Sea that is Laphroaig and delivered me to the Promised Land that is Ardbeg. Had this been my first introduction to this tarry smokiness of Islay grit, I am convinced that I may have been repulsed and I would have been at odds with my friend, the Doc.
As you may have guessed, the Ardbeg 10 year old resides securely in a swirling cloud of smoke, one that blurs your ability to see the 21st century’s ways and carries you back to Ardbeg’s origins in 1794 when there were no fans to circulate the smoke, but rather it hovered, heavily drenching the maltings.
The nose of this whisky is as you guessed — ashen and hearty. Just to give you an example — after I opened the bottle and poured the first dram, I walked into the room where my wife and a few friends were sitting and it only took a few seconds for her to say, “Oh my, that smells horrible!” Usually it takes a few minutes for such criticism to be unleashed upon me and my beloved.
The palate is lighter than the nose, but still charred, offering the remnant of something fruity. I suppose I am not skilled enough yet to discern precisely within this cloud, but if the Doc were here and demanded a designation, I’d choose an apple because for some reason, while sipping, I craved a piece of warm apple pie and whipped cream.
The finish is very dry, drier than most, but not unpleasantly so. Indeed, it would work well with a piece of apple pie, giving you precise enjoyment with each bite and sip — washing away any previous, syrupy pie-filler taste and yet not hanging around to alter each new bite of the pie.
Thanks, Doc, for the recommendation. I’m looking forward to upping the ante with other editions when I find them.