For the final sample of the evening we were privileged to have in our hand an unreleased single malt from none other than Ardbeg, arguably the most popular distillery on Islay.
Coming from Douglas Laing's "Director's Cut" range this was a 23 (YES 23!!) year old Ardbeg which was bottled at 53.1% ABV. Other information provided stated that this was from a single cask which yielded 114 bottles and that the spirit was distilled in 1991 before being bottled in 2014.
Seeing as all whiskies were revealed after we had tasted them we all were absolutely stunned to learn that this was from Ardbeg. Usually known for it's big peaty notes this Ardbeg just blew us away with it's stunning flavours and deep complexity. As I nosed the whisky the peat didn't arrive and as a result it reminded me a lot of the new Balblair '90 vintage which I previously reviewed here.
Onto the notes:
Nose - Tropical beyond belief. Banana, pineapple, coconut deep orange, bubblegum, banana on toast. Banoffee pie and slight touches of blackcurrant cordial. With time the age begins to show itself with distinct notes of sweet tobacco and leather dustiness. Truly amazing.
Palate - Sweet, fruity with huge blackcurrant, strawberry, raspberry and in fact all berries seem to be present. More tropical banana with definitely more of the old dustiness hiding within the whisky. The strength is perfect, not too much at all and allows the spirit to completely open up in the mouth.
Finish - Long, lingering and completely fantastic!! Old and rich fruit combine with great wood spice complexity. Totally moreish.
Overall this is simply out of this world. In my opinion this is very un-Islay like but still breathtakingly brilliant. The fruitiness from the spirit has combined so perfectly with the cask to produce one of the finest drams I've ever had the pleasure to sample. The fact that this comes from Ardbeg just impressed me even more. It just goes to show that they don't always need to mess around with fancy, sometimes gimmicky, releases and instead they should treat us all to these utterly gorgeous whiskies that are lying dormant around their warehouses. If they don't then thank goodness we have Douglas Laing who will.
Incidentally, if you wish to get your hands on this whisky you had best save up and keep your eyes on "Master of Malt". With the price still to be confirmed I can only imagine this will cost a pretty but believe me it's worth it.
As with the last four updates, all relevant links can be found below.
Well that is that. All five drams sampled and reviewed and I'm sure you can all agree what a set of whiskies they were.
All I shall finish with is to once again thank Douglas Laing, "Big Peat himself" and of course Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire for this amazing opportunity. I can highly recommend to any new whisky fans, or experienced connoisseurs, to get themselves onto Twitter and check out @TheWhiskyWire. The tastings that Steve Rush manages to set up are nothing short of fantastic. Thanks to social media, @TheWhiskyWire allows us all, experienced or not, to get involved in the world of whisky while making new friends, expanding our knowledge and trying some of the best drams around. Can't argue with that.
Until next time,
The Whisky Wire - http://www.thewhiskywire.com
The Whisky Wire Twitter - https://twitter.com/TheWhiskyWire
Douglas Laing & Co. - http://www.douglaslaing.com/home.php?DOC_INST=1