Ardbeg: Perpetuum (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 47.4% ABV)
Visual: Pale gold.
Viscosity: Medium speed and thickness streaks.
Nose: Smoke. Oily fish skins. Intense. Swordfish steak. Creamy. Salt sea spray. Wet rocks. Light sherry trifle – especially sherry soaked sponge and brandy cream. Water adds floral and crushed grit notes.
Body: Warming. Noticeable alcohol. Rum and raisins. Brown bread. Beef broth. Peaty. Sherry trifle. Oily and creamy feel mix. Cream flavour notes. Water makes less alcohol, adds lime cordial and bigger peat. Orange crème, vanilla fudge and far more trifle come out.
Finish: Peat. Dry. Dried beef slices. Raisins sweetness. Trifle. Light cherries. Vanilla toffee. Cream. Malt drinks. Water adds lime, peppercorn, fudge pavlova, red wine and gentle spice.
Conclusion: Intense. Very intense. Creamy. Full on peat yet aged smoothness of character. Vanilla bourbon sweetness and sherry full on flavours. Damn. Just, damn. Normally peaty whisky is a trade off. The intenseness of the peat is a young whisky’s game, and fades with age. Smoothness is the character of distinguished age that young whisky cannot match. Mixing young and old spirit this manages to do both. I really sounded like a corporate shill there didn’t I? However, hell, it is true.
Neat it has all of the salt, medicinal character, peat and meat character you would expect of an Islay, especially an Ardbeg. The alcohol is warming and present but doesn’t get in the way of a smooth but intense Ardbeg expression. Here the bourbon sweetness leads with vanilla toffee and fudge notes, working alongside the intense style – however there are hints from the sherry on the side giving raisins and sherry trifle notes.
The use of water flips this around – much more smooth, beafy and peaty, but the sweet sherry trifle and spice take the floor for a richer, fuller, and more balanced take. More mellow, but still intense, with much more going on.
Of course, if then you want to flip it back to bourbon influence leading again, then you have to pour yourself another measure. Oh the pain. Then add water to sherry it up, then pour another shot to get the bourbon back, then… and so on as the infinite loop continues in perpetuity. Ok, that time I really did sound like a corporate shill.
Jokes aside, this is legitimately great – hits all the range of Islay – salt, beef, oil, peat – and all the character of an aged whisky in smoothness, bourbon and sherry character. One of the few whiskies that I can easily say is worth the best part of a hundred quid price tag.
Background: Special whisky time. This is one that I had been umming and ahhing about if I should get it for a while, the 200th anniversary bottling of Ardbeg, but it is a tad expensive. In the end it was got for me as a gift thus solving my dilemma. Many thanks indeed! It is a mix of old and young whisky, and a mix of bourbon and sherry ageing. It was released during Feis Ile 2015. I was trying to save it until after going to see The Libertine play at the theatre, it just seemed appropriate, but my willpower failed and I drank it a day early. Which kind of also was appropriate all things considered. Drunk while listening to Dethklok – Dethalbum 3. A big whisky deserves big music.