Ardbeg: Uigeadail (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: No age statement: 54.2% ABV)

Visual: A rich but light gold.

Viscosity: Medium thickness streaks form from the spirit, neither slow nor quick.

Nose: Charred wood. Light iodine and salt. Warming. Heated oils. Smoke. Barbecued fish. Oak.

Body: Very strong. Charring and charcoal up first. Lots of alcohol and old oak feel. A touch of boggy peat. Water adds a light sweetness, possibly custard like, which contrasts the harsher content.

Finish: Dry peat and very dry charring. Gin like in dryness. So yes, very dry. Water makes a massive smoke come out with the charring. Salty. Water also adds the lightest malt chocolate sweet offset

Conclusion: Huh. I never knew it was possible to burn a whisky. This thing is all charred husks and salt. Oddly it seems to favour the slightly medicinal character that I would associate with Laphroaig rather than the usual Ardbeg peat explosion.

Lots of salt character, however most noticeable is the extreme dryness which puts me in mind of the cask strength Glen Ord I had a while back. Again, like the Glen Ord playing with water to offset the cask strength didn’t seem to dampen the dryness. However here we did get a light sweetness contrast, I presume from the increased sherry representation

So unfortunately while this is a nigh universally well received whisky, like the glen ord it was too dry for my tastes.  The gin and salt style feels like it needs more to work with, as otherwise the alcohol punch feels like it has too much free reign.  I suppose that is what the sherry is meant to do, but I can’t quite see it.  Possibly it just needs the right water balance to bring out, something it’s hard to do without having a full bottle to play with. I can but review the drink I drank however and that I’m afraid to say was not to my tastes.  It just lacked that meaty grip, or mainstay component to grab onto. The alcohol strength, massive charring emphasis, and an attempt more subtle style just doesn’t play well together.  Ah well.

Background: At the time of trying I did not know how well regarded this whisky was. No less that Jim Murray called it world whisky of the year in 2009. Probably for the best I didn’t know so not to have expectations up. This whisky has a significant chunk of it sherry aged compared to the normal Ardbeg.  I’m a huge fan of Islay whisky, with Lagavulin being my favourite. Drunk at the Rummer Hotel in Bristol which has a quite quite silly sized spirit selection.  There was a zombie walk going on at Bristol at the time creating very odd atmosphere.