Released 1 June 2013, 52.1% ABV
In 2013, Ardbeg decided to (temporarily) rename their global day of celebration to help bring attention to the famed peat bogs of their island home and to celebrate the vital part they play in making Ardbeg the peaty pleasure that so many love.
For that reason, Saturday 1 June 2013 was coined Ardbog Day. And what should they name their limited release whisky for Ardbog Day?
There’s a bit of theme going on here guys!
Fans the world over eagerly awaited this release and just like Ardbeg Day the year before it, Ardbog was released globally on Ardbog Day, 1 June 2013.
Ardbog had more of a traditional presentation this time, with the hallmark Ardbeg green bottle, dark-coloured label and black presentation box. Not one to disappoint when it comes to quirky details, the matte presentation box was covered in gloss illustrations and gold lettering spelling out interesting peat bog tidbits.
The detail continues on the inside lid, with Ardbeg’s mascot, Shortie, making one of his many appearances throughout the packaging.
There’s also a handy Ardbeg Committee booklet inside, detailing Ardbeg’s core range and all you need to know about becoming a committee member.
And then we get to the whisky itself. While there’s no age statement as such, Ardbog is a vatting of ten year-old Ardbeg matured in traditional American Oak ex-bourbon barrels and European Oak ex-Manzanilla sherry casks.
Vatting vs. Finishing
Finishing generally describes the process of moving the contents of one cask (traditionally an American Oak barrel), into a second cask for a short period of time before bottling. The second cask is often fresher and/or treated with an alternate wine or spirit of some sort (think sherry, port, rum, various other wines etc.) which is done to impart some more flavour and complexity into the whisky before it’s bottled.
2012’s Ardbeg Day is an example of whisky that was ‘finished’ in ex-sherry casks (for a period of six months) before it was bottled.
Vatting on the other hand generally involves taking two or more different casks of whisky and mixing them together in a vat for a period of time, before they’re bottled. In this case, Ardbog is a vatting of ten year-old Ardbeg matured in American Oak ex-bourbon casks and ten year-old Ardbeg matured in European Oak ex-Manzanilla sherry casks.
Quite rich, full and deep. Sherry fruitiness, hints of plum, charred peaches, cinnamon, some bonfire smoke and salty coastal notes. Slightly syrupy in nature and full of rather round, soft aromas – quite refined and balanced.
Never thought I’d say this about an Ardbeg, but I almost want to describe the nose as subtle.
Medium body mouth feel, not too hot and big on flavour. I got currants, some berries, charred woody smoke flavours, some BBQ smokiness and fragrant peat. A salty saline peat tang hits in the sides of your tongue, but nowhere near as much as many other Ardbegs – sherry sweet and salty savoury at the same time.
A touch of smoke and some salty spicy saline notes start to emerge. These hang around nicely with the residual sweetness – all of which seems to remain to the end of the medium length, warming finish.
I really enjoyed this one. If I didn’t know, I would have guessed it to be slightly older than ten years and would also guess it to be a fair bit more mature than Ardbeg Day.
As someone who enjoys a nice balance of sherry and peat, I found this one to be really quite pleasing. The vatting (as opposed to finishing) has really done wonders for it in my opinion. All of the aromas and flavours were much softer, rounder and balanced, especially when compared to 2012’s Ardbeg Day.
That being said though, I can also imagine Ardbog being a bit of a let down for some diehard Ardbeg fans, as some of those big hallmark Ardbeg flavours weren’t quite there. I appreciate distilleries playing around with the stock they’ve got and releasing exciting expressions, so that didn’t bother me in the slightest.
If only I had a bottle of the all new Auriverdes to taste…