Head To Head – Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release vs General Release
A bit later than I expected getting to this. Such is. I’ve learned to stop caring about any sort of schedule for this site, self-imposed or externally-nudged. And you good folks have been infinitely patient and supportive. Appreciate that. More than you know.
As with any Ardbeg release that hits the shelves in both Committee and general release, the immediate question is one of quality comparison. How does the more readily available (and affordable) standard version hold up to the higher strength, alternately-packaged and premium-priced ‘members only’ edition?
In this case? Quite well, actually. As you’d expect, the Committee bottling is a better dram. In all respects. It’s deeper, richer and brings to the fore some notes that are either muted or non-existent in the general release. But that’s not to say the general release isn’t a great dram. It is. I think Dark Cove was meant to be an Uigeadail-esque Ardbeg, redolent of heavy sherry and deep peat, dark in tone and color. It succeeds on all fronts, but I think more interesting than this comparison would be a proper H2H of Dark Cove vs Uigeadail. Perhaps we’ll have to do that one too. All in the name of science, right?
Good malt, this. Happy to have a few of each put away for future sessions.
Ardbeg Dark Cove (2016)
Nose: Deep and rich. Dark fruits. Pepper. Fisherman’s friend. Moist tobacco. Fruit leather. Wet ashy notes.
A touch of raspberry. Fennel. Smoked ham. Clay-like and minerally. Warm, melty caramel aromas.
Palate: Horse blankets (no, I’ve never licked horse blankets, but the smell of ’em is the taste here). Peat and smoke.
Gooey, jammy notes. A tobacco linger. Hot ginger. Pepper. Brine. Seared scallops. Dark chocolate. Medicinal / Band-Aid notes.
Thoughts: Not as good as Uigeadail, the other big sherried Ardbeg to which this is often compared. But…still good, of course.
Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release (2016)
Nose: Coffee. Dark chocolate. Peat. Licorice. Iodine. A new pouch of loose tobacco. Damp earth, wood and moist dunnage. Wet ash. Very savoury. Smoked ham and all sorts of BBQ notes. Dark, dark oily vanilla here. A mash-up of red, green and black Ju-jubes. Big dark caramel notes. Hoisin.
Palate: Gooey, sticky malt. Smoky and peppery. Burnt shellfish. So much bigger of a delivery here than the standard release. The oiliness is heavenly. Rich fruity notes. More vanilla. Smoked fruits. A fresh bag of dried fruits. Licorice. So thick and tarry. Wow.
Thoughts: Flawless? Nope. But exactly what I wanted it to be. Really like this one. So much more than just the regular release at a higher strength.
– Images & words: Curt