Ardbeg is crazy to put out the Dark Cove. Or brilliant. Having previously posted about the marketing strategies they have mastered, it’s probably the latter.
Drinking it feels like this a collection of the casks that didn’t make it into (the new, lesser sherried) Ardbeg Uigeadail. It’s not bad whisky, mind you. It’s just not stellar in any way, and it definitely doesn’t stand up to the promise of being “Ardbeg’s darkest spirit ever” as the PR promises, unless this darkness has nothing to do with the color. It brings nothing new to the table, and I’d be happier with a bottle of pre 2014 Uigeadail at half the price.
The label reads:
Its colour is that of copper stills in moonlight. Its nose – dark chocolate, rich treacle toffee and distant bonfires – betrays a secret: a clandestine meeting of Ardbeg matured in ex-Bourbon casks and a heart matured in dark sherry casks. Hints of pepper spice and zesty lime lure you in. Smouldering charcoal and wood polish flit across the palate, with raisins, dates and ginger emerging from the shadows of tarry creosote. Echoes of cured smoked ham and squid ink noodles signal the arrival of a long spicy aftertaste. Take this whisky and hide it well; For it is Ardbeg’s darkest spirit ever.
Fluff and fluff, but what in whisky heaven’s name is “a heart matured in dark sherry casks“? What’s “dark sherry”? I assume Oloroso or PX, as opposed to Fino? And what’s a heart of an expression? One cask? Three? Come on….
Yet, my criticism of the spirit definitely stops at the marketing. That part is really good. Dark Cove harks upon the spirit of smuggling and the PR video is excellent:
Judging by Auriverdes, Perpetuum and Dark Cove, I can’t really say that I’m sure where Ardbeg is going, but it’s not a good place. I can’t remember the last time I had an LVMH distilled Ardbeg and said “darn, I need a few more bottles of this” (that, BTW, happened just yesterday as I tasted the Lagavulin 8, which I assume to be about the same age as the contents of this bottle). Now, we’re expecting a 21 year old to be released this year, but the spirit is pre LVMH, so I’m not even sure that mitigates my last statement. By the way, this statement by no means extends to Glenmorangie, who seem to be fully benefiting from Dr. Bill Lumsden’s creative genius, and have been both consistent and groundbreaking in their Private Edition range.
Ardbeg, you’re breaking my heart….
Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Edition (55%)
Appearance: Bronze, thin legs coming slowly off a necklace.
Nose: Not unlike the Uigeadale at first sniff, with a little less sherry than the older Uigeadale versions, it’s a very dry and has an almost chalky nose, mitigated by some tones of dried fruit, though not enough for the sherry in which it was matured. Distant barbecue, a hint of balsamic vinegar and some salt.
Palate: A tad hotter and more peppery than the Uigeadale, it’s extremely dry and not as sweet, with a background hint of sourness . This is not a very enticing dram.
Linger: Long, dry with very little sherry sweetness and some metallic after notes that remain with the peat.
Decent Ardbeg, but far from being stellar. If you were expecting a special dark whisky or one that justifies paying more than you would pay for Uigeadale, this is hardly it. I honestly expected much more.