Tag Archives: Ardbeg


Ardbog Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
52.1% ABV
What the Distillery Says:
The name Ardbog was chosen to highlight the peat bogs of Ardbeg’s island home Islay and the part they play in the whisky making process. The unique peat bogs contain highly aromatic plants that when used to dry malted barley gives Ardbeg whiskies their distinctive smoky flavour.

Ardbog has deep, enticing waves of pecan nuts, salty toffee & caramels, fudge, leather and a distinct whiff of herbs, lavender and violets. The smoke is soft and aromatic, and is interwoven with savoury notes, like Iberico ham (de bellota) and olives.

Tasting Notes:
Colour: Deep ochre

Aroma: Deep, enticing waves of pecan nuts, salty toffee & caramels combine with fudge, leather and with a distinct whiff of herbs, lavender and violets. The smoke is soft and aromatic and is interwoven with salty, savoury notes, such as berico ham and olives. The addition of water brings forth herbal, perfumed notes, smoked rhubarb, aged balsamic vinegar and some salty, ‘graphite’ notes reminding you of the Manzanilla cask element.

Taste/Texture: A full, oily/tingly mouth feel leads into a powerful, salty, savoury burst of flavours including salted cashews and peanuts, clove, aniseed flavoured toffee, green olives and a curious hint of anchovy. A long, lingering aftertaste, in which the classic Ardbeg sweetness (like a hint of maple syrup) is kept in check by oak tannins, clove and coffee grounds.

What Richard Says:
Nose: The peat weaves through but there is a sweetness that takes center stage. It’s kind of a nut-cream sweetness playing with the smoke and salt. There is also a menthol like effervescence that reminds me or Proraso.
Palate: The way this is bottled is the first thing that stands out to me. The flavors are a little reserved at first but the mouthfeel says this isn’t chill filtered and bottled well above the “standard” 40/43 of most malts. There is a nice rich oiliness to it that I really like. The flavor is an interesting interplay of savory and sweet. Fried salt pork with a dark chocolate mole maybe. There is also a weird minty and herbal thing going on. It’s like a Ricola cough drop and a wintergreen breath mint had a baby.
Finish: Minty, smokey and salty. It’s got a bit of hang time but I wouldn’t call this a long finish.
Comments: This is one of those whiskeys that I have a hard time reviewing because while I respect what’s been done it also not really my cup of tea. I in no way think that I have the market cornered on good taste in whiskey. Ardbog doesn’t do it for me but there are a lot of parts here that I can see would appeal to a lot of people.
Rating: Stands Out

Event Notice: Mac McGee October Whiskey Club Events

One month, one bar, three whiskey events. Mac McGee has a series of scotch events on tap in October for your drinking pleasure.

Ardbeg Galileo Release
October 6, 2012 at 8pm

Come down and enjoy the latest delicious release from the masters of peat Ardbeg. This limited edition 12 year old single malt whisky is a special celebration of the “world first” space maturation experiment.

Ardbeg Galileo is a special vatting of different styles of Ardbeg laid down in 1999, all married together to give a sweet, smoky texture. The heart of this limited edition Ardbeg is spirit matured in ex-Marsala wine casks from Sicily that is combined with hallmark Ardbeg matured in first and second fill ex-Bourbon casks. The ex-Marsala casks add fruity aromas and textures to Ardbeg’s famed peaty, smoky house style. We will have the privilege of tasting three whiskies with the Ardbeg Girls: Ardbeg 10 year old, Ardbeg Uigeadail, and Ardbeg Galileo all for $30.

Isle of Arran Tasting
October 10, 2012 at 7:30pm

Tonight we have the rare opportunity to taste with The Arran Malt Ambassador, who will walk us through these exquisitely balanced and savory malts. We will taste a few rare releases from this small island off the coast of Scotland beginning with The Arran 10 year old, The Arran 14 year old, The Arran Sauterns Cask, The Arran
Amarone Cask, The Arran Port Cask, and The Arran Machrie Moor all for $35.

Bunnahabhain Toiteach Release
October 16, 2012 at 7:30pm

Truly a unique release from our friends at Bunnahabhain, the Toiteach is Gaelic for “smoky.” This heavily peated style is an unusual mark form a distillery that is known for delicate fruity Islay whiskies. Bunnahabhain Ambassador Haley Cognata will be here to talk about the lore and flavors of this distinctive distillery, while tasting Bunnahabhain 12 year old, Bunnahabhain 18 year old, Bunnahabhain Toiteach, and Bunnahabhain 25 year old all for $35.

RSVP for all events by contacting the folks at Mac McGee at 404-377-8050 or macmcgees@gmail.com.

Qu’est-ce que c’est?

“I hate people when they’re not polite” as the song goes.  Whisky writers and enthusiasts have long been accused of elitism.  Even those of us who seek to lift the veil on whiskey’s mysteries, can fall prey to what some see as arrogance and snobbery.  Whisky festivals often seem to enforce this theme.  The vast majority of attendees are white men over forty with very comfortable lifestyles.  Clubs, guilds, or societies often host the events.  There is often a dress code.  One expects a certain amount of decorum.

Where am I going with this?  Well I’m about to rant in a way that suggests my own elitism (though that is hardly the point).  This week the Single Malt Whisky Society hosted the Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza.  The event itself was very great.  However, some the attendees did not comport themselves a way befitting their standing.  There are always a few assholes at events like this.  There are the guys that pre-game and show up drunk.  There are the guys that don’t understand the point of the spit/pour buckets and are hammered after the first table.  My chief complaint this time?  The guys that do not respect the “talent.”

Unless you are at Whisky Fest, most of the folks behind the tables are brand ambassadors (as opposed to Master Distillers).  Brand Ambassadors range from dudes in kilts with a brogue to well educated non-kilt wearers to actors, actresses and models.  These folks are the “talent.”  Back in the day, the actors/actresses/models rarely knew anything about whisky in general and sometimes not much about their own brand.  I’m happy to say that (apart from a handful of brands) this is becoming a thing of the past.  They still hire pretty girls (they know their market), but the brands are doing a better job with education.

While talking to the Heather at the Glenfiddich table (a real class act who knows her stuff), I heard someone behind me mutter, “it doesn’t matter how many questions you ask, she is not going to sleep with you”.  This is unacceptable.  First of all, don’t disrespect a guy who is genuinely seeking knowledge.  That is the act of a barbarian.  Secondly, do not disrespect the ladies at these events (or ever for that matter).

If that was the only incident, I would still be outraged but I would allow that it was just one jerk-ass showing off for his friends.  However, throughout the night, there were many instances of this kind of behavior.  Now, I’m no prude.  I like a well shaped form as much as the next guy, but real men leave that kind of talk in the locker room or in the company of other men.  You’re momma raised you better.

If you’ve stuck with me this long, I guess I should talk about the event itself.  It was a good time.  The food was pretty good.  The layout in the tasting room caused some traffic flow problems.  The tasting tables were laid out in a “U” shape with table seating in the middle of the room.  There were times that navigating between the tasting tables and the seating became difficult.  Without prodding people to keep moving, I’m not sure there was anything to be done though.

There were over 100 whiskies on pour.  I tried a small amount of quite a few, but really took my time with a few others.  At events like these, I try to focus on things I wouldn’t normally try.  That night, the SMWS bottlings were high on my list.  They are all worth trying, but my favorites were the Cask No. 76.68-15yo from Dufftown (Mortlach distillery) and the Cask No 53.136-17yo from Islay (Caol Ila).  The Mortlach surprised me, because it was very sweet with some great berry notes.  Previous independent bottlings I’ve tried tasted like Robitussin.  The Caol Ila?  Well, that’s a distillery that continues to grow on me.  Perhaps my palate is getting more sophisticated.  Finally, I see what all the hype is about.  I get a lot of those fizzy, lemony notes I found in the unpeated Caol Ila with some great peaty bite.  This is a whisky you can chew.

I got my chance at the Ardbeg Rollercoaster.  Rollercoaster is very enjoyable, but I think the Corryvreckan was better.

Like Richard, I decided the give the Dalmore another try.  I’m still not enthralled.  For some reason, I’ve always wanted to like the Dalmore.  Maybe it’s Master Distiller Richard Patterson’s charm or the beautiful package design.  I’m never satisfied with the whisky though.

Usquaebach was there.  If you’ve never had this blend, I encourage you to give it a try.  The high-end version comes in a nice ceramic jug (it’s an NAS vatted malt).  That’s the only one I’ve seen on shelves.  They have two other versions. (a 12yo with some grain content and 15yo vatted malt).  For my money, I think the 12yo and the NAS are the way to go.  I wasn’t all that impressed with the 15yo.  The 12yo is a great little blend at a good price point.  I put it on the same level as Old Parr (maybe even better).

Overall, the Extravaganza was great.  I highly recommend the event.

Remember, if I see you disrespecting the ladies at one of these events, I’ll come at you like Richard Patterson going at someone putting water in a glass of Jura (seriously, he’ll slap you).

fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa


New U.S. Releases – February ’10

The new release calendar is starting to pick up a little steam this month. There are some interesting things coming down the pipe.

Garrison Brothers Texas Bourbon
Timeframe: Spring 2010
ABV: 50%
Price: less than $50
This is the first release from this little distillery in Hye, Texas. These guys are doing new bourbon from the ground up. This is a pre-release bourbon that was distilled in 2008. Only 1,000 bottles will be distributed to local liquor stores in Blanco and Gillespie Counties in Texas ahead of the full release at a later date. It should also be noted that these are 375ml half bottles.

Old Crow Reserve
Timeframe: Spring 2010
ABV: 43%
Price: $10-$12
This new version of Old Crow from Beam Global is aged an extra year over the standard Old Crow to the ripe old age of 4 years.

Caribou Crossing Single Barrel Canadian Whisky
Timeframe: March 2010
ABV: 40%
Price: $50
The folks over at Buffalo Trace got their hands on some Canadian whisky and thought it good enough to bottle. I’m not the biggest fan of Canadian (especially after the defeat in Olympic hockey) but if it’s coming from Buffalo Trace then I’m intrigued.

Jura Prophecy
Timeframe: April/May 2010
ABV: 46%
Price: $70
This new release from the Isle of Jura is another smoky whisky along the lines of their Superstition release.

Dalmore 18 Year Old
Timeframe: April/May 2010
ABV: 43%
Price: $150
This is the newest addition to the recently relaunched Dalmore line. I can’t wait to give it a try!

The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1973
Timeframe: TBD
ABV: 49%
Price: $1,250
This bottling is the newest release of The Glenlivet’s ongoing vintage release program. Only 240 bottles of this are coming stateside so if you want it and see it, you better grab it.

Ardbeg Rollercoaster
Timeframe: TBD
ABV: 57.3%
Price: TBD
This new release from Ardbeg is celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Ardbeg Committee. A must try for the peat freaks out there I’m sure.

That’s it for February. Please let me know if I missed anything.

Drink wisely my friends,