An Ardbeg tasting, hosted by Stuart Thomson, distillery manager.
Having braved the gauntlet which is First Rail, I managed to arrive at more or less the critical point in this tasting, Ardbeg Kildalton 1981. This astonishing whisky made me laugh out loud, a reaction which few whiskies (or wines for that matter) engender. Kildalton, to explain, is a more or less unpeated Ardbeg (!). What's more, you can't buy it, because they have pretty much run out. So why am I writing about it? To annoy you, of course. No, no, no, I don't mean that. That would be bad. I have to talk about it because it is such a good product. And Ardbeg might make something of its ilk again - y'never know. If ever you hear someone saying,"this is just like Kildalton 1981", bloomin grab it while you can.
Imagine, if you will, a gentle Ardbeg - yes, yes, yes, noisy boys at the back, I know, oxymoron, military intelligence, etc, etc, but that is what it is. The nose is gentle, sweet, a powerful blast of chocolate coated cherries, then becoming very mealy, with the salt finally coming through, and then more chocolate. The texture of the nose (nose feel?) reminded me of Port Ellen 24 y.o.
On the palate it is salty AND sweet, very mellow for an Ardbeg, with the charred wood / smoke character coming in on the long gentle finish. 17/20 (No really)
Having started with such a good whisky it was a little tricky to give the others a fair go. The Ardbeg 17yo was very stinky - fishy, in fact - at first, but then the smokiness came in, followed by dried fruit, saltiness, perhaps a hint of chocolate, and just a wee further touch of salt at the end. 16+/20
I was very taken, too, by the Uigeadail. This is blended from 10yo, 13yo, and some 1975 fino sherry cask, and the complex nose reflects this. It starts off metallic and seaside-y, there is a wee burning nip to it, then the fruity aromas, the smoke, more of the metallic character and a strong mealy note come through. These elements swirl round, first one then another coming to the fore, never settling on a single note. 16/20
A very fine tasting. I'm only sorry I missed some of it, since Stuart Thomson very evidently knows his stuff, and can talk about it most entertainingly.