Ardbeg 10 Yr Old 46% ABV
The flagship of Ardbeg, Ardbeg Ten Years Old is an Islay whisky of exceptional balance and depth of flavour. World Whisky of the Year 2008.
Ardbeg Ten Years Old 700ml is revered around the world as the peatiest, smokiest, most complex single malt in existence. Yet it does not flaunt the peat; rather it gives way to the natural sweetness of the malt to produce a whisky of perfect balance. 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, thus retaining maximum flavour, at the same time giving more body and added depth. A renowned whisky with none of the goodness taken out.
On the nose, Ardbeg 10 Years Old has an intense smoky fruit smell – peat infused with zesty lemon and lime, wrapped in waxy dark chocolate. Bold menthol and black pepper slice through, followed by tarry ropes and graphite. Delve further and savour smoked fish and crispy bacon alongside green bell peppers, baked pineapple and pear juice.
Add water and an oceanic minerality brings a breath of cool, briny sea spray on chalky cliffs. Waxed lemon and lime follows with coal tar soap, beeswax and herby pine woodlands. Toasted vanilla and sizzling cinnamon simmer in the background with warm hazelnut and almond toffee. Exceptional balance and depth. At full strength, the aroma is a beguiling mix of toffee and chocolate sweetness, cinnamon spice and medicinal phenols. Fresh citrus and floral notes of white wine are evident, as are melon, pear drops and a gentle creaminess. There is also a fresh phenolic aroma of seaspray (iodine) and smoked fish. Hickory and coffee emerge later as the most volatile top notes fade. With water, the depth of the peat opens up, at once revealing layers of phenols with gristy peat and leather followed by medicinal phenols (carbolic soap) and a whiff of wood smoke. However, the sweetness of vanilla and the fragrance of citrus fruits are never far behind, maintaining the balance and intrigue.
An explosion of crackling peat sets off millions of flavour explosions: peat effervesces with tangy lemon and lime juice, black pepper pops with sizzling cinnamon-spiced toffee. Then comes a wave of brine infused with smooth buttermilk, ripe bananas and currants. Smoke gradually wells up on the palate bringing a mouthful of warm creamy cappuccino and toasted marshmallows. As the taste lengthens and deepens, dry espresso, liquorice root and tarry smoke develop coating the palate with chewy peat oils. The mouthfeel is firstly lightly spiced, then chewing, mouthwatering and full, finally drying.