Here we go. New Ardbeg time. Always an exciting thing for this guy, as you know. In this case it was quite a fortuitous set of circumstances that led to my tasting this one. Just so happened An Oa was released on the very day I, and a few mates, visited the distillery a wee while back. Serendipity? Perhaps. But late at night…after a few drams of Ardbeg…deep in my semi-delusional mental meanderings…I like to pretend they released it when they did just to commemorate my visit.
I should confess that we drank an awful lot of this stuff on the island, and I’ve been sitting on this sample for several weeks now, so it’s simply a matter of delinquency that we’ve not gotten this posted earlier. Hey, life is busy. What can I say? Either way…what say we finally get to it, yeah?
So…obviously I had very early firsthand opinions about this one, and usually my first impressions are pretty spot on with what my end impressions are. But it’s been rather interesting to read what the wider whisky world is shouting about An Oa. If you’ve been following along you’ll likely know that most early word is quite positive. That is somewhat surprising, in and of itself, cause let’s face it…everyone loves to hate on Ardbeg. To be fair to An Oa, it actually is quite decent (as is all Ardbeg, if we’re actually being honest with ourselves), but I still can’t help but find myself slightly disappointed.
I like An Oa. Really, I do. It’s a decent entry level Ardbeg. The flavours are decent (young, but decent) and the whole idea of balance that the release is predicated upon is commendable. But wait…is this really an entry level malt? Really? In terms of flavour profile and undisguisable youth…absolutely. In terms of price? Well…locally, at least, this one seems to have been positioned between the Ten and Uigeadail. I was under the impression that this was to be the new entry level Ardbeg. Seeing as how I can still scoop up the Ten for well under $70 in some locations ’round here, and that An Oa will retail at ~$100, I’m obviously out of sync with things. Would love to hear something official that speaks to this. Anyway…tasting notes…
Nose: Noses young. Smoke and rubber. Custard. A hint of banana. Lemon. Salt licorice. Warm rubber. Lime and chilis. Straw. Ginger. Eucalyptus. Soft, creamy sherry notes. Vanilla-rich oaky bottom line. Pleasant, but lacking. More creamy and custard-y than the Ten (and not really better for it).
Palate: Yep…tastes young. Oak, vanilla. Peat. Loads of licorice. Sen Sens. Citrus zest (oily and rich). Some of the mid-palate fruits are nice. Orange in particular. A lot of Granny Smith apple at the back end.
Thoughts: Yes, it’s good. Of course it is. But I think we’ll stick with the Ten, to be honest. This is too soft for an Ardbeg. Oh…and cute marketing campaign, I should add. As always.
– Images & words: Curt