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I'd been looking forward to Ardbeg for months, after having some in a delicious chocolate where the smokey flavours were amazingly pronounced. I am a big fan of islay whiskeys, but as i'm starting to discover on my little whiskey journey that just because you like whiskeys from a certain region doesn't mean that you're going to like them all, because there's as different as they are similar.
I really liked laphraig and was eager to try this one too, eventually I did find it (and it's easy to find due to availability and distinctive look) and filled up my glass. The first thing I noticed was that it's pretty much colorless compared to other whiskey's i've had. I didn't like the taste, it was way too medicinal for me and I think the stronger smoky flavours in laphraig help to mask the TCP taste. I didn't like this one at all, and it was a pain to drink the glass. but don't take my word for it, Ardbeg has one many many awards, and is regarded as a truly fine whiskey, just because I can't handle the peat doesn't mean it's a bad whiskey.
I have recently taken to writing reviews on Dooyoo about whisky. Partly because I have only just realised that there is a large selection of whiskies to review here on the site and partly because I love whisky and feel I have quite a good knowledge of it, hence it puts me in a good place to be able to review the stuff. Of all the whiskies I have sampled over the years and believe me there have been a few, there is one that I always come back to. This one stands head and shoulders above anything else I have ever tried and it's my all time favourite whisky. For the purpose of this review I am talking about the standard ten year old bottle of Ardbeg.
The Ardbeg distillery is a small distillery that sits on the coast on the isle of Islay. Now any of you who know anything about whisky will know that Islay has several distilleries and in famous for producing very strong peaty whisky. I love the Islay whiskies and rarely drink anything else and Ardbeg is my personal favourite. I have tried quite a few varities of Ardbeg over the years and I love them all, but the one that I come back to the most is the ten year bottle.
So Ardbeg is famous for being one of the most peaty whiskies out there, it is also a very smokey one as well. The whisky is very light in colour, something quite unusual for Islay whiskies and it's smells wonderful. You take a sip and the first thing that hits you is undoubtedly the peat, it's really strong and yet not overpowering. Then you get a long smokey flavour that reminds you of being sat round a campfire under the stars. There is a subtle taste of sea salt in there but nothing to strong and then a crisp vanilla flavour comes out. The finish is wonderfully smooth and lasts for a very long time, it's really warming and mellow. Ardbeg has a real kick to it but it does not over power you when you are drinking it.
The whisky is 46% which makes it quite a strong one. Some people recommend adding a splash of water to bring out the flavour in this one, I do like to do this but when I say a splash I really do mean the most tiny amount, any more and you lose some of the power of the whisky. When it comes to price this one is a little bit more expensive than I would like it to be. I had a quick look online and could not find it any cheaper than £33 and that was not including delivery. You do occasionally see this one in the supermarkets although not very often and I have never seen it on offer. So for price it is a little bit steep but for me it is certainly worth it.
Overall then this is a wonderful whisky that I really do love. There are other Ardbeg's I also like and I think my all time favourite would be the Ardbeg Corryveckan which is amazing. But for a good all round whisky that is decent value and tastes amazing then this one is right up there for me. If you are a fan of the Islay whiskies then this is one you simply must try.
Ardbeg Ten Years Old is a very special bottling for the Ardbeg distillery as it is the first non-chill filtered whisky in the Ardbeg range. Chill filtering isn't a bad thing, in fact it created real consistency of product when the whisky industry was a little more 'hap-hazard' than it is today. Ardbeg Ten Years Old is whisky with none of the goodness taken out and as good as straight from the cask. Who would believe that back in 1981, the distillery fell silent and was mothballed? Fortunately in 1997, to the delight of fans all over the world Glenmorangie plc rescued Ardbeg and a team of dedicated souls set about repairing and reviving the distillery (not to mention repainting it!). Now, once again Ardbeg flows freely.