Monday, 21 December 2015

The development of Ardbeg 10

Ardbeg changed their distillation regime in May 1998, and the new Ardbeg 10 was first bottle the summer of 2008. Back in 2011 I compared an old Ardbeg 10 from 2006 (L6 150 4:50 p.m. 4ML) to the new Ardbeg 10 from 2009 (L9 203 1:49 p.m. 6ML). Both whiskies were 46% abv. and non chill filtered.

According to my notes, the aroma and taste were quite similar, but there were differences. The difference in colour was close to zero. Both had sweetness and citrus on the nose, but they were not directly fruity. The old had a touch of peach, honey, toffee and acetone, while the new one was somewhat lighter and fruitier with a flowery touch. Vanilla was also more prominent in the new. The new developed to a greater extent from a sweet to a bitter and astringent mouthfeel. The old was more full-bodied, and appeared immediately smoother. Nevertheless, the new one had the smoothest mouthfeel.

Both whiskies had the characteristic Ardbeg creosote, sea, salt, pepper and smoke, even though the new one was more pronounced in all these areas. I finished asking if these are to completely different whiskies. The answer was no, and a statement that it would probably be possible to taste the difference even when you taste one by one, but if you don’t think about it, they would probably be taken for the same whisky.

Last week, I had the opportunity to compare a 2006 version against a 2015 version. I was in for a big surprise. I did not expect to find a big difference. The Ardbeg 10 year old is still 46% abv. and non chill filtered, but then come the differences.

The 2015 version was much paler than the 2006 version. Since no colour is added, a sign of younger whiskies.

The 2015 had a much more rubbery and smoky character than the old one which had much more of the Ardbegian creosote character. The new one seemed crisper, spicier and with a hint of crème brûlée, while the old one was the smoothest. Overall, I like the 2006 version much better than the 2015 version.

Why did I not find a big difference between the 2006 and the 2009 version, while I found a big difference between the 2006 and 2015 version? Has Ardbeg been moving gradually to younger whiskies with more rubber and less creosote? It seems reasonable. In the 2006 version, it is probably a large amount of older whisky from around 1990, while the 2015 version probably consists mostly of ten years old whisky. Doing the change overnight, would have caused a too fast change in flavour. It seems like a good idea to do the change gradually over several years. Is this what has happened?

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Ardbeg Perpetuum

There are two releases of Ardbeg Perpetuum; the 49.2% distillery release (DR) and the 47.4% general release (GR). The DR was released in March 2015 and the GR in May 2015. I got the opportunity to compare the two at Ballygrant Inn on Islay some days ago. Are there any differences except for the strength? How is Perpetuum compared to Arbeg 10Y? I find the GR more mature than the DR. The difference can not be explained by the strength alone. A rescue operation going on between the release of DR and GR? I find both to be immature versions of the 10Y.  I find no reason to buy the Perpetuum unless you are a fan of the Ardbeg new make. Personally I prefer a more mature version of the Ardbeg, so I dropped buying the DR when I visited the distillery for lunch. Should I buy a Perpetuum, I would keep to the GR. But the quality is far from earlier special releases like Alligator, Galileo and Ardbog. A sign of running low on mature whisky, forcing the release of substandard NAS?

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Amrut tasting at Mister India

This week I arranged a tasting of Indian Amrut whiskies, followed by dinner, at Mister India in Oslo. Mister India provides one of the better Indian dinner experiences anywhere, very good food, nice atmosphere and service. They have a very good selection of wines and whiskies, which you do not expect to find in an Indian restaurant. Had it been a French kitchen, they would have been a candidate for a Michelin star.

We tasted the following whiskies:
- Amrut Single Malt 46%
- Amrut 2009 single cask #2697 PX finish 4YO 56.5%
- Amrut 2009 single cask #2714 Portpipe 4YO 59%
- Amrut Kadhambam 50%
- Amrut Greedy Angels 8YO 50%
- Amrut Intermediate Sherry 57.1%

Except for the Greedy Angels, the whiskies where around four years of age. Due to high temperatures in Bangalore, the evaporation is close to 50% in four years, and the whisky is maturing quite fast. Except the Portpipe, I find all the whiskies well matured. The whiskies have something exotic and intense about them.

The standard 46% is matured in new American oak and ex Bourbon barrels. It has a vanilla, citrus, exotic fruit, floral and light oak character with a peppery finish.

The PX has a vanilla, light coconut and dried fruit character. With water spice and exotic fruit comes through.

The Portpipe appeared with some new make character and an alcoholic sting. It is quite smoky with lot of spice. It dries out the mouth.

The Kadhambam started its maturation in ex Oloroso casks before being transferred twice to brandy casks and rum casks. It is quite heavy. It has an exotic fruit character with vanilla and sweetness with light rum character. It has a small alcoholic sting, but it is not overpowering the nose. It is a bit sharper than the PX.

The Greedy Angels, matured in ex Bourbon barrels, is quite intense with vanilla and citrus. The most round and integrated of the whiskies. It has a vanilla/linoleum character that is almost too intense. It has a dry finish

The Intermediate Sherry has a vanilla, dried fruit and spicy character with a dry finish. It explodes in the mouth and has a quite long finish compared to the other. Some new make character when tasting it right after the Greedy Angels.

My favorites are the PX and Intermediate Sherry. Tightly followed by Kadhambam, Greedy Angels and the standard 46%. The Portpipe was not to my taste

After dinner, we were ready for the treat of the evening: GlenDronach Grandeur 31YO at 45.8%. It is matured in an ex Oloroso cask. It is extremely well balanced, sweet and heavy with lots of dried fruit character like raisins, dates and figs. It has a dark mahogany colour. It was never an option to add water to this whisky. This whisky alone is worth a visit to Mister India.

A memorable evening.