Jan 262021
 

Wow. I’m impressed. Batch 2 arrives with all the character and bombast of Batch 1, but much less misogynistic endorsement and rabid demand. Color this kid happy.

The fever pitch that arose following Jim Murray’s award left legions of folks hunting for bottles that seemed to disappear almost overnight. If rumors are to be believed, a parcel of what remained was bundled up and sent to the eastern reaches of this far-flung land, while an additional boatload was shipped overseas to sate one of the Asian markets. It makes sense to spread the wealth a bit. And as a Canuck, it makes me happy to see good Canadian whisky finding some well-deserved appreciation abroad.

And I think we’ve gotta hand it to Alberta Distillers: their ability to maintain consistency is second to none. While I’m certain this batch will again be much too small to meet demand, I’m optimistic that ADL has finally seen the light and realized they have the golden goose here in their Calgary distillery. I’m confident we’ll see this expression becomes a permanent addition to the Alberta Premium range. Goes to show it’s never too late to make a push for the front of the pack.

By the way…this one was all Black Current Halls Cough Drops to me, and sure enough, the packaging references black currents. One of the few times I’ve enthusiastically agreed with a brand’s published notes.

66.0% abv. Number of bottles? No clue. But certainly too few.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Blueberry n’ brambleberry. Black Current Halls Cough Drops. Raisin cookies, and all the requisite spices you’d expect (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc). Clean, sinus-clearing notes of fresh-cut pine or spruce; kinda like a stroll through the lumberyard. Chocolate covered cherries. A bit of caramel. A squeeze of lemon. French vanilla ice cream.

Palate: More dark berries here again. Reminds me of the berries I always pick while walking the footpaths on Islay (yes, I know, we’re getting a bit esoteric here). Tight, tight spicy rye. Eucalyptus. Clove and cinnamon. Pine sap. Chocolate. More currents. Grass (a mate of mine says maybe a black tea).

Finish: Long and oaky. Herbal and grassy. Quite oily.

Thoughts: Finish may drag it down a tick, but still a stellar sip. This is what rye should be. Makes me question even further the misstep that was the 20 year old from last year.

89/100

 Posted by at 12:10 pm
Jan 202021
 

I came into this one with low expectations, I’ll admit it right up front. That had less to do with Ardbeg’s ability to create a decent young malt, and more to do with the fact that I kinda think most sub ten year old whisky tends to be a tad underripe and undeveloped. I expected brashness, a bit of a new make-y character, and not a lot more.

Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong.

Long months before Wee Beastie landed on our shores, it had already sparked a frenzy among the slavering peat fiends ’round here. The shop was so inundated with requests that we had to set aside a separate binder to manage all of the pre-orders and special requests (yes, yes, we still do some things in the ol’ analog way at KWM). And no matter how many times we shouted that this one was now a permanent fixture in the core range, it didn’t seem to quell the hunger (or thirst?). Perhaps part of that early pursuit was a weary and schooled intellectual approach, suggesting that many consumers are now aware that a new brand always puts its best foot forward (and often declines thereafter), but I think the reality has more to do with FOMO: fear of missing out. Ardbeg has cultivated legions of fans around the globe, and even with perpetual production (and an exciting new expansion!), the distillery is likely always going to be producing shy of demand.

As for the Beastie, I know I’m late to the party. Sorry ’bout that. Crazy times. But here we are. And fortunately, we have a dram of hella good young Islay malt in hand. Impressive beyond its years, and so much better than I’d hoped.

A vatting of ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso casks, served up at 5 years young and 47.4% abv.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Yes, it’s peaty and quite feisty, as we’d expect in such a rambunctious youngster. Almond. Creamy lemon meringue. Warm welly boots and chlorine. Fresh pepper. Cold coffee. Something kinda like drinking mezcal in a barn. Pee in a pool. A very coastal tarriness. Bundt cake. Oat cakes. Oyster liquor and other fine briny things.

Palate: Very clean smoked peated grist. As mouthcoatingly smoky as you’d expect. Licorice. Key lime pie. Lemon cakes. Ladyfingers. Mint leaves. A bit of very-expected Granny Smith apple. And cough drops of some sort.

Finish: Long finish, primarily on chlorine, smoke and salt licorice.

Thoughts: It’s young, yeah, but it’s not spirity. An impressive – and ballsy – outing from our beautiful Ardbeggian family. Very much the distilled essence of Islay.

85.5/100

 Posted by at 10:54 am