As anyone who follows The Aspiring Gentleman on Twitter knows, we are pretty big fans of Ardbeg 10 Years Old. There is a ritual to drinking Ardbeg: Firstly, open the bottle and smell the deep, oily peatiness. Secondly, pour and enjoy a healthy-size dram. Thirdly, listen to the wife complain you smell like a “campfire.”
Despite being mothballed for most of the 80’s and 90’s, Ardbeg (now owned by Glenmorangie PLC) is now one of the largest and fastest growing distilleries, particularly on the island of Islay. Ardbeg makes a wide range of whiskies, from the lightly peated Blasda to the 100ppm phenol count Supernova (Octomore lovers?). Their most recent bottling, Rollercoaster, is vatted from 10 casks — one for each of the first 10 years of Glenmorangie PLC’s ownership of Ardbeg. Accompanying their wide variety of unique malts comes the Ardbeg workhorse — the 10 year. Having consumed more than a bottle or two among friends, we present this review with knowledge and experience of the joy and good times a dram of Ardbeg 10 can bring.
How can such a lightly coloured whisky pack so much punch? The whisky’s intense peatiness has an oily, medicinal quality, with lots of toffee sweetness; burned wood on a rainy night. The body is thick on the palate, starting off slow before peat and spice hit you hard. Plenty of citrus (pear, melon) notes present themselves, as does an undertone of iodine. Very powerful, yet surprisingly balanced, the taste simmers out to woody espresso notes. Lingering peaty smokiness and spice finish this dram off. Best enjoyed (in our opinion) with a drop of water.