46% ABV/92 Proof Non Chill-Filtered
Available in the United States and Europe – $65 to $70
What the distillery says:
Ardbeg Ten Years Old is a very special bottling for the Ardbeg distillery as it is the first non-chill filtered whisky in the Ardbeg range. Chill filtering isn`t a bad thing, in fact it created real consistency of product when the whisky industry was a little more `hap-hazard` than it is today. Ardbeg Ten Years Old is whisky with none of the goodness taken out and as good as straight from the cask (a little misleading – straight from the cask would be closer to 120 proof – Matt).
What Richard says:
Nose: Peat, burning driftwood, garden compost, hints of vanilla and a slight floral undertone. Heather maybe? With water the nose loses the more delicate floral and vanilla hints and turns much spicier.
Palate: Seaweed caresses the tongue and moves back leaving a heavy brine. The lightest trace of sweetness is quickly ran out of town by the salty sea.
Finish: Very smooth on the throat but the lingering brine is so strong it leaves your tongue feeling thoroughly salted. More trace hints of vanilla as the whisky clears the palate.
Comments:Definitely one of the heavier dives into Islay. This Ardbeg is a peaty briney firestorm and it’s only the 10 Year! Ardbeg is a dram of the elements.
Rating: Stands out
What Matt says:
Nose: Peat, leather, caramelized plums, brine and a hint of sweet bourbon (think Basil Hayden’s more than Maker’s Mark)
Palate:Lightly peated compared to some other Islays, this whiskey lets the malted barley shine through. As with other peated whiskies, there are definite notes of licorice and iodine.
Finish:Despite it’s astringent mouth feel, the taste of peat and iodine stick around long after you swallow this one. A long finish is one of the trademarks of Islay malts, but this was surprising.
Comments:This whisky provides a good introduction to peated single malts. It is not overly peated and offers some of the cereal notes and sweetness you get from lightly or unpeated whiskies. I expected a little bit more complexity from an unfiltered whisky though. The astringent quality and pale color are both odd for Islay whiskies. Whiskies from the Islay region tend toward a darker color and more oily mouth feel. This one is good for someone just getting into Islay malts, but I would recommend Laphroaig, Lagavulin, or Talisker (technically from Skye, not Islay, but similar taste profile) over this one.
Overall Rating: Average