The Ardbeg 10 is a longtime daily dram favorite of mine. So much so, that I recently finished a bottle I opened in June without even taking tasting notes for the blog for it….Thankfully it’s so popular that getting hold of a bottle wasn’t difficult 🙂
The south shore of Islay is home to three active distilleries, all of whom will be celebrating their (legal) bicentennials within the next year: Ardbeg and Laphroaig in 2015 and Lagavulin in 2016. The fourth neighboring distillery, Port Ellen, opened in 1825 and was closed in 1983.
1983 could have been an even more disastrous year, as Ardbeg was also mothballed that year. But unlike Port Ellen, production at Ardbeg was resumed in 1989, but that 6 year gap was enough to cause a shortage in the 17 year old stock starting in 2000, and increased demand caused the distillery to use most of its stock before reaching that age anyway, thus, the core range of the distillery currently includes the 10 year old and two NAS expressions. I have recently heard that Dr. Bill Lumsden is now considering bringing back the 17 year old.
Ardbeg 10 (46% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Straw, thick and quick legs.
Nose: Clean mineral peat, honey and lemon drops, your clothes after spending the night around a bonfire, an underlying deep sweetness.
Palate: Dry and dirty peat, lemon freshness. The dryness is palatable on the sip.
Linger: Long sweet peat, citrus-y light bitterness, dryness on the palate.
If you like peat, you’ll adore this expression. The basic peat monster, uncomplicated, straight forward and good. Sadly, this is the only unassuming expression that Ardbeg has, with all the other expressions suffer from a crazy hype sometimes reaching utter madness.
If you can get hold of an older Ardbeg, distilled pre 1983, you’ll notice a difference in the peat flavor, resulting from the fact that the distillery stopped malting its own malt when coming back online in 1989.