With the 2016 Fèis Ìle Festival drawing to a close, we celebrate Ardbeg’s open day with a tasting of the whisky which, to me, is close to the epitome of the beauty of Ardbeg’s spirit. The Galileo was released to celebrate some Ardbeg spirit being sent up into space to study the effect of zero gravity on maturation. This whisky has since returned to terra firma, and I honestly expected to see a release with a teaspoon of that whisky in the vatting – hyped up and marketed like only Ardbeg can. Don’t rule that out yet….
Anyway, hyped up or not, this whisky is outstanding. Deep and complex, with quite a bit of bang in flavor. The Marsala really works well with the Ardbeg spirit, and being a vatting whisky that was fully matured in Marsala and bourbon, as opposed to just being a finish, adds a serious depth to the flavor of the whisky. Had this been part of the core range, it would have been a permanent resident in my whisky cabinet!
Ardbeg Galileo 1999, 12 Year Old Matured in ex Bourbon and ex Marsala Casks (49% ABV)
Appearance: Dark Bronze, thin and long legs.
Nose: Ardbeg peat with a dry and fruity nose. Dried apricot, but more like the organic ones than like the yellow ones you get at the supermarket, grapes, baked apple, stewed peaches and canned pineapple. Hints of star anise and cinnamon and an intense winey sweetness round it out. The empty glass has milk chocolate and malt left over for some time.
Palate: Rich sweet mouthfeel with a lot of fruit – red grapes, fresh peach and some sweet red berries. Spice appears with white pepper and cinnamon, with hints of gentle clove and nutmeg, with a very warm and dessert like feel.
Linger: Peaty and sweet with a very dry feel, mostly on the tongue and palate. Not a typical finish, with the peat and spice staying on and on.
This is an excellent Ardbeg, in fact, to me, this is one of the best of the special editions and Committee releases – especially of those that followed the Ardbog in the last three years (think Auriverdes, Prepetuum or Dark Cove). I’m not sure if it’s the Marsala or the few extra years in the cask, but this expression is, well, stellar (punny, I know….).
Thank you Torben, for the Ardbeggy delight.