Ardbeg Ardbog

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?

Ardbog

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 - Bottle and Box

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.

Ardbog Box

The detail continues on the inside lid, with Ardbeg’s mascot, Shortie, making one of his many appearances throughout the packaging.

Ardbog Box Lid

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.

Ardbog Committee Booklet

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.

Ardbog - Glass

Nose

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.

Palate

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.

Finish

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.

Comments

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…

Ardbeg Day – The Whisky

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!

Ardbeg Day - Bottle

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

Ardbeg Day - Swing tag

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

Ardbeg Day - Swing tag 2

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.

Ardbeg Day - Glass

Nose

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.

Palate

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.

Finish

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.

Comments

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.