The Ardbeg 10 year old has been one of my favourites for many years, but since introduction of the new distillate from 1998 and onward, the quality of the 10 year old has gradually decreased.
Today Ardbeg is getting serious competition from Bunnahabhain which is very good at its best, but a chocking catastrophe at its worst.
This evening I compared Bunnahabhain Ceobanach, Bunnahabhain Toiteach, Ardbeg 10 and the Edradour Ballechin 10 year old.
I prefer my peated ex-bourbon matured whiskies without the new make character which I find rancid and stale, and without the rubber/sulphur character which maturation in good quality ex-bourbon casks should remove.
The Toiteach has too much new make character and seems immature. The new make hides the nice Bunnahabhain character which I find plenty of in the Ceobanach. To my taste Toiteach should never have been bottled. But I will give Toiteach one thing, when getting it in the mouth and trying to forget the nose, it is quite good.
The Ceobanach is a beautiful whisky with citrus, sweetness, light fruitiness and flowers on the nose. The smoke is a crystal clear wood smoke. Today I find the Ceobanach much better than the Ardbeg 10 year old which has got more of the new make and rubber/sulphur part than the old 10 year old. I find the Ceobanach to be more citrusy, sweet, fruity and floral on the nose than Ardbeg. Ardbeg 10 is still a good whisky.
But, are there other good peated whiskies out there? Fortunately, yes! This evening I gave the Ballechin 10 year old a chance. With some sherry matured whisky in it, it has a hint of new make one the nose and is a bit heavier than the Ceobanach. It has also a hint of rubber and sulphur, but it works ok with a heavier whisky. All in all, I find the Ballechin to be a good whisky.
Got a sample of Bunnahabhain Moine, the Swedish edition from 2015, and compared Moine, Toiteach and Ceobanach.
The Moine has quite a bit of new make character, but lack the decay of the Toiteach. Both are young NAS whiskies, but I think that the sherry influence of the Toiteach is a problem. The casks have not been able to remove the decay character from the Toiteach, while the more pronounced ex-bourbon influence of the Moine has.
The nose of the Moine is sweet, vanilla and fruity, but the citrus and floral part is drowned by the new make character. The Moine is not bad on its own, but head to head with Ceobanach it has a long way to go. It is too young.
A problem with the Moine is that the aftertaste fades away quite fast. It goes from sweet and new make to peppery and then dryness which fades away fast.
The Toiteach goes from intense to dry and then heavy pepper for a good while before getting dry and fading away. It has a longer aftertaste than the Moine. The Ceobanach is less peppery with a long dry oaky aftertaste. It is very clean and nice.