Past due here, I know, I know. Betcha thought I’d be jumping at the bit to share a few words on the latest Ardbeg. Being a so-called ‘fanboy’ and all. Every time I review one of these releases I kinda feel like I have to duck and cover. So be it. I hold steady to my opinion that no distillery in the world is putting out this high a level of distillate year upon year. Not every release is a knockout, but not a single one is bad. Ever. Actually, not one is ever less than really good. Contentious, I know.
Some out there are saying that this profile is a little too ‘manufactured’ (or some such sentiment), but this deep fruitiness is spectacular with the big smoke behind it. Really. Think smoke-infused jam or something of that ilk.
Grooves was matured in charred ex-wine barrels. As opposed to that wet-fill wine casking that all too often results in that weird sour winey tang at the back end of the development, in this case the sugars have been caramelized into the wood and come forth in a beautiful charry sweetness. Gotta say, I think Grooves is probably my favorite of the recent Ardbeg releases.
Nose: Surprisingly soft and jammy fruits behind big smoke and savoury BBQ notes. Charred pork in some sort of berry reduction. Smoked apricot (if only there were such a thing). Some ashy, sooty notes. A whiff of caramel. Jam on well-toasted bread. Damp smoke (as from wet wood). Hard cherry candies and real vanilla bean. With enough time in the glass…a whiff of well-toasted marshmallow.
Palate: Coastal and, yes, very Ardbeggian (that is a word. I refuse to hear otherwise!). Warm rubber and salt licorice. Dry and dark. Ash again. Smoked meat bark. Beautifully gooey and sweet.
Thoughts: Love it. No two ways about it.
– Image & words: Curt