In a Shot: Big, smokey and filled with so much peat that the moss grows out of your mouth and evolves into an elaborate aggressive level of smoke that I would say it's for those seeking experience rather than those just enjoying a daily dram.
Ardbeg: "The Ultimate Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 10 Years Old, Non-Chill Filtered 46% ABV"
I have been very neglectful to my fans and aim to change things around here. For those of you who have not been up to part with things, Johnny Cocktail has become Johnny Wine Guy and is day and night wandering the streets of Alexandria looking for new people to try famous wines in the pop culture market and still educating folks about the balance and beauty of excellent service, craftsmanship and a genuine appreciation for all things good, small or large. I have on back order at least ten blogs and would like to begin producing them for my fans. I'm not only going to be back but I'm bringing that original rawness found in some of the older posts back for a while to get me quickly back into the game.
The Next Rounds on Me in its title states "A DOSSIER of all things drinks & drinking." I aim to make that a fact. From now on, if I happen to taste anything whatsoever, whether brief or expansive, I will now begin posting information and opinions about them. I told you Scotch tastings were coming and boy oh boy have they come and gone. I will elaborate on those later but for now, lets start with one I had the privilege of trying this past year, courtesy of my recently returned to the states friend Brad, who gave me this as a gift, knowing I was a lover of all things peat moss related, particular whisky!
Located in the Islay region of Scotland, the small (in size but not in popularity) island just south west of the Isle of Jura, was originally a refuge for Celtic monks escaping the raiding Nordsmen was the home of illicit distillers making their whisky a midst a rugged and rocky cove. The location was abundant in soft water, fertile soil and of course, precious acres of peat moss. Back in 1815, according to a small family of tenant farmers named MacDougall, this was a location to begin building a distillery. Close by the site of the long-abandoned Tallant distillery and just a little farther south, lies Ardbeg, a distillery where by 1853 was the biggest producer on Islay and the center of a 200+ community.
This place was described beautifully by Whisky Aficionado Michael Jackson; "Islay does not seduce you like other islands. Instead, it invades and takes possession of you. Its constant wind carries a mix of sweet, salt-laden air, the whiff of the sea, the coconut aroma of hot gorse, a hint of peat smoke and bog myrtle, and the smell of just-spent fire on the beach. All the notes you pick up in its malts are there, floating in the Atlantic Wind." - Just brilliant!
On a small note about this place, it was huge in the 1850's. It ended up with a horrible reputation for being the peatiest and almost undrinkable beast for a time and was primarily used as fillings for blends. It ended up closing the year I was born (go figure) and by the early 90's it was only running to make unpeated "Kildalton" malt, Ardbeg eventually became dilapidated. 1997 was the year where Glenmorangie (Yes, light, non-peaty, easy drinking Highland Glenmorangie) resurrected the distillery and has become a bustling location. Yes, it is still famous for being a "Peat Monster"
Ardbeg has been awarded the best distillery in the world, three times in a row. It is unique in many ways. For one, it's declared by many, the peatiest and smokiest Scotch in the world. Typically most whiskies are chill-filtered and reduced to a strength of 40% ABV. Ardbeg Ten Years Old, however, is non chill-filtered and has a strength of 46% ABV.
And boy is she is deceiving. Ardbeg 10 Year Old truly looks light in presence, but has an oiliness from her fresh barley grain, slightly mustard yellow complexion that tells me that there is something darker and far more developed than anybody else her age. It almost appears virgin olive oily without even allowing it to move. The nose, reveals an intense level of peat moss, brine and smoke.
It is best described as a beach fire put out by the sea itself and the smoke that arises from it, is the truest form of this dram. In the mouth it is heavy and sharp, as the relatively moderate finish arrives, multiple layers of smoke and heat follow. The heat finishes far quicker than the taste of oil and peat does, it truly feels as if this flavor, if you do not drink or eat anything else, will follow you for the rest of the day.
It is aggressive, assertive, bold and a bruiser of a dram and I highly recommend it for anybody looking for an experience, but not for anybody looking for a casual libation. It's definitely one of my favorite mass market Scotches. I must give praise and thanks to Mr. Rainwater for giving me an opportunity to enjoy this specimen, it is a true experience of a spectacular whisky - I hope to explore more like this VERY soon.
We'll talk again soon y'all, this weekend I'm participating in a serious Rum tasting. It will make quite the blog entry!