Released 2 June 2012, 56.7% ABV
To set the scene for these next few posts, each year during the Feis Ile festivities on the isle of Islay, Ardbeg have been known to release a special, limited production bottling to commemorate the celebrations.
Historically, these highly sought after bottles were only ever available to the dedicated Ardbeggians who queued up outside the distillery, but this changed in 2012. For the first time, Ardbeg made their famous Feis Ile bottling available worldwide via official ‘Ardbeg Embassies’ and coincided its release with the newly established Ardbeg Day.
What should one name the inaugural release? Ardbeg Day of course!
According to the label details, Ardbeg Day is a composition of two different expressions, finished in refill sherry casks (since said to have been ex-Uigeadail casks) and was bottled at a hefty 56.7% ABV. I’ve heard that it was limited to 12,000 bottles worldwide, but I’m yet to find any official documentation of that.
The bottle was released as bottle and swing tag only and was never presented in standard box packaging. The little swing tag booklet has some pretty quirky illustrations in it covering random historical events that ‘took place’ on the 2nd of June in years gone by
There’s a sneaky footnote in the booklet though which read: ‘Ardbeg takes no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies, satisfied that the historical occurrences herein contain at least a grain of truth’.. cheeky! One we can rely on though is this
The Ardbeg Day whisky was only available from 2 June 2012 through official Ardbeg Embassies and as you may have guessed, it sold out pretty quickly.
Initially I found this to be quite vibrant and fresh – zesty peat right up front, some vanilla, perhaps a touch of ginger, molten sugar sweetness, some crisp hints of fruit and quite a wallop of a mineral/salty saline note. Overall, I’d describe this as quite a dry nose.
Really quite oily and viscous from the get go. Fiery, spicy and heavy on the zesty, earthy, saline peat notes right up front on the tongue. These seem to almost intensify, but I also get a hint of vanilla, some ashy coal and smoke. Not a whole of sweetness with this one, though it does show its head after a good half hour in the glass.
The peat and saline notes really intensified for me on the finish, resulting in a greatly satisfying, long, chest-warming finish. As the finish fades, still quite dry and spicy.
I found all of the aromas and flavours on both the nose and palate to be quite pointed, sharp and pronounced. To me, there’s nothing rounded or shy about this one. It tasted quite youthful, vibrant and bitey and I’d describe it as one of the more intense Ardbegs I’ve tasted.
My personal preference would be to tame this with a drop or two of water (and it seems to hold that amount of water quite well) though I do actually quite enjoy the drying intensity of it.
Two years down since its release and I still really enjoy this one, though I can’t confidently liken it to anything else that’s currently available in Ardbeg’s core range (as of 2014). It’s not totally dissimilar to Ardbeg Alligator, though that’s a bit of an unhelpful comparison as they both now command collector (as opposed to drinker) prices.
Very pleased to have been able to re-taste this one from a sample. Next up, the 2013 Ardbeg Day release – Ardbog.