I'm a huge lover of Ardbeg! But I had low expectations of this one because of the mixed reviews I've come across (unlike the 10, Oogie and Corry, which are pretty universally loved). Apparently it's for newcomers as a softer introduction to Ardbeg, yet it's actually priced higher than the 10 and Wee Beastie (it's US $60-70 where we are). Tasted in a four-person tasting alongside Compass Box Spice Tree, Auchentoshan 12, and Laphroaig Cairdeas Fino.
The classic Ardbeg lemongrass and smoke nose that is so characteristic and that I love so much! A lightness and whimsicality on the nose. Sea breeze, dark chocolate/chili chocolate and orange peel.
The palate is clean and wonderful and the notes on the nose translate exceptionally well. Lemongrass, apple juice, melon. Not a giant, full mouthfeel -- more lean, on the lighter side, but in a wonderful way. Very balanced. Really quite spectacular.
Very nice -- the spice and smoke linger. Again there is consistency across nose, palate and finish.
This was a huge hit among the four of us. One of us slightly preferred the Laphroaig Cairdeas Fino, two liked this equally well as that, and one of us liked this the best.
Scores: BO: 91, MF: 92, TF: 93, CO: 93. This is a really nice addition to the Ardbeg lineup. It's maybe closest to the 10, but different enough to warrant a place on our shelf. It's got a lot more structure and balance than the Wee Beastie (that wild child!).
Note on scores: mid-70s are for standard good drams we enjoy quite a bit but would not necessarily buy a bottle of too often (Glendronach 12, Caol Ila 12). 80's for stuff we really enjoy and would love to buy/drink regularly (Bunnahabhain 12, Glendronach 18). 90+ our favorite bottles that "wow" us and that we really want on hand if we can afford it (Bunnahabhain 18, Ardbeg Uigedail).
91 / 100