Islay Trio – Ardbeg Uigeadail 54.2%

After being surprised by both the Bunnahabhain Eirigh na Greine and Bowmore Gold Reef, our Islay trio closed with this Ardbeg.

We sampled it blind, with no idea beyond it being the last of the Islay trio.

Ardbeg Uigeadail 54.2%

  • Nose – Very meaty, a proper peat bog, one even said “the peat is nearly at the level of headache inducing”, burnt masala maggi noodles, curd and sour imli (tamarind)… was that black liquorice?
  • Palate – Wildfire chillie, frankly had a solid “sucker punch”, sour ash, a real khaata meetha (sour sweet) quality, some saunf (fennel), then pure cinnamon
  • Finish – Fabulous long finish, cinnamon spice chased by smoke

One described it as “buzzing with peat” and we began to run through our roster of peatier drams. No stamp of Laphroaig and certainly not Caol Ila or Kilchoman.

It didn’t have the balance or depth of an Octomore, had a different swagger we didn’t instantly associate with Port Charlotte either… so not Bruichladdich….

Our speculation turned to Ardbeg, yet didn’t quite mesh with either Supernova or the more familiar 10 year fare… at least so we thought. Perhaps a sherry dimension peaking in there? Ardbeg but not quite the familiar Ardbeg…?

Again, we were not so confident in our ability to place this whisky.

The unveiling?? Uigeadail!

Which sparked memories of the superb Corryvrecken..

Checking out my old tasting notes online, read….

  • Nose – Hello peat! With a dash of espresso, then a delightful curl of maple syrup, underneath a whiff of iodine, then liquorice
  • Taste – Peaty dancing around a camp fire! A bit of tar, like chewing the end of a cigar, an odd almost flat cola flavour, raisins…
  • Finish – Smoky, dry, rubber… then elements of dried apricot

Not so far off… at which point attention turned to the official tasting notes:

  • Nose: Rich and weighty with heady and smoky aromatics. At full strength, the initial aroma is a beguiling mix of warm Christmas cake, walnut oil and parma violets fused with fresh ocean spice, cedar and pine needles falling from the Christmas tree. A smouldering coal fire and the scent of well-oiled leather brings warmth. The sweetness of treacle toffees and chocolate-coated raisins emerge through the smoke. With water, the deep smokiness increases in intensity, reminiscent of a fired Christmas pudding. Rich flowering currants and warm baked banana and walnut bread are served with simmering mocha espresso.
  • Taste: Full flavoured and rich with a deep mouth-coating texture, the taste is an intriguing balance between sweet, spicy and deep smoky flavours. The flavour is initially sweet. A burst of winter spices sets off a smoky-spicy explosion countered by a sumptuous mid-palate of honey glazed smoked food and chewy treacle. Waves of deep smoky tones and rich aromas build up on the palate like a fine Montecristo cigar.
  • Finish: Amazingly long and chewy with lingering raisiny, deep mocha tones and rich aromatic smoke into the perfectly integrated finish.

What did we sample with our Islay trio?

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Islay revisit – Bunnahabhain, Bowmore + Ardbeg

Our original Mumbai based whisky tasting club has an unwritten rule – no repeats. We also taste blind so as not to be influenced by brand or pre-conceived notions about a particular whisky or distillery.

Yet after so many years, our obsession with exploring new territories presents a challenge to find something ‘new.’

So why not have an evening that deliberately sets us up to sample whiskies we’ve had (or similar to ones we’ve tried), but each with a twist… being expressions that aren’t necessarily representative of a distillery ‘house style’ – if such a thing even exists anymore!

We also observed that our impressions bore little relationship to official distillery tasting notes… Past experiments have helped provide insight into possible reasons with a range of factors including the whisky temperature, ambient aromas and environment, tasting order which can influence perceptions of the whisky to follow,  conversation and company, and frankly just the mood of the taster!!

What did our host “trick” us with?

Click on the links above to read our tasting notes, comparing with previous experiences and distillery official tasting notes…

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Ardbeg Uigeadail 54.2%

When Jim Murray was influencing us to guess an Islay when sampling blind the Amrut Peated, the closest I could think was perhaps an Ardbeg expression.

So when I found myself a few days later in slightly peaty mood, decided to go for a ‘real’ Ardbeg.

Of the Ardbeg stable, the Uigeadail has become a ‘classic’. A bottle of it also just happens to find its home in my cabinet… So why not revisit?

Ardbeg (Whisky Lady)

Ardbeg Uigeadail (Whisky Lady)

Ardbeg Uigeadail NAS 54.2%

What did I find?

  • Colour – Light gold
  • Nose – Hello peat! With a dash of espresso, then a delightful curl of maple syrup, underneath a whiff of iodine, then liquorice
  • Taste – Peaty dancing around a camp fire! A bit of tar, like chewing the end of a cigar, an odd almost flat cola flavour, raisins…
  • Finish – Smoky, dry, rubber… then elements of dried apricot
  • Water – Cranks up the spice… then mellows out with the peaty smoke enveloping, chased by sherry sweetness. Doesn’t harm but doesn’t really enhance.
  • Ice – I threw in a mini cube (gasp!) Not something I’m inclined to try with most whiskies – however we have now entered into the post Holi ‘warm’ season so decided to risk. And? Let’s just say it doesn’t do wonders for the nose however it brightened and lightened up the whisky. Can’t say it works for me. Maybe I’m just too stuck on the ‘no ice’ adage.

What was my conclusion after the revisit?

Well.. I can understand why Uigeadail has its fan club. It is also priced reasonably. What it pulls off best is bringing a chewy peatiness without clobbering you over the head with it.

Personally, I prefer it best neat and it has been nice to have around for those times when the peaty mood strikes!

Ardbeg (Whisky Lady)

Ardbeg Uigeadail (Whisky Lady)

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