Ardbeg Corryvreckan

57.1% ABV, £58.49 for 70cl

Score 88/100

What they say:

A deliciously deep, powerfully peaty and wonderfully wild whisky – Ardbeg Corryvreckan is the epitome of ‘the untamed spirit of Islay’.  Corryvreckan takes its name from the famous whirlpool that lies to the north of Islay, where only the bravest souls dare to venture. Swirling aromas and torrents of deep, peaty, peppery taste lurk beneath the surface of this beautifully balanced dram.

Like the whirlpool itself, Corryvreckan is not for the faint-hearted!

Tasting Notes

Colour
Deepest amber

Aroma
Heady, intense and powerful.

With the first sniff, encounter the deep and turbulent force of Corryvreckan as it pulls you inwards. Swirl the glass and dip your nose into the torrents of tarry ropes, creosote and linseed oil rising from deep within the vortex. As you succumb to its power, a collision of waxy dark chocolate, warm blackcurrants and muscovado sugar pulls you under its spell with a burst of plump cherries and earthy pine needles leaping from its depths.

Swirl water into the glass, and observe the magical collision of whisky and water. As the liquid warms up, the seething cauldron bubbles and bursts, as you edge closer to sniff a pot full of gutsy cayenne-peppered steak and oysters smothered in hot pepper sauce. Salty seasoning brings a briny character with tangy crisp seaweed and smoky bacon swirling on the surface with hints of sweet vanilla, spicy cloves and blueberries.

As the whirlpool narrows and quickens moving ever deeper, surrender to its dangerous depths with the heady force of menthol, treacle and chilli sauce.

Taste
Plunge into the whirlpool and taste the mysterious depths of Corryvreckan. Torrents of taste well up on the palate; deep, peppery and chewy, bombarding the tongue with its intense tastes and textures.

The first plunge brings forth chewy peppered steak soaked in pepper sauce with the tang of crispy seaweed. As you descend deeper, encounter a mouthful of black tarry espresso coffee that coats the palate with rich melted dark fruits (blackcurrants, blueberries and cherries) and bitter almonds. As the taste soaks in deeper, star anise and hickory dry out the palate before a surprise of chalky effervescent violets fizz to the surface.

Finish
Long, deep and remaining powerful into the finish with black tarry coffee, chocolate coated cherries and hot pepper sauce, the lingering memories of your mysterious and daring journey into Corryvreckan.

What I say:

The Corryvreckan was the first bottle of Ardbeg expression I bought and the first Ardbeg I had tried. After reading several reviews of this ‘peat-monster’ producing distillery on the south coast of Islay I decided that the Corryvreckan intrigued me the most. Despite the higher scores [justly in my opinion at least] awarded to the sherried Ardbeg Uigeadail, it was the description of steak and pepper sauce in the Corryvreckans portfolio that really sold me. I had yet to discover how whisky could be meaty and spicy and this one delivers in droves! Seriously not one for the faint-hearted. I picked up a bottle at World of Whiskies in Edinburgh Airport, where they don’t stay on the shelves for long!

Colour:

Pale yellow gold

Nose:

Vulcanized rubber, leafmould, new gloss paint, nail polish [acetone], floral hints and newly prepared/paint-stripped wood [slightly burnt].

Taste:

Satay, spicy/hot peanut and creosote, savoury quality with almonds and walnut, pepper steak, hint of black truffle oil, amaretti biscuits and pencil shavings

Finish:

Smooth and sweet peanut, marzipan and hazelnut latte, smooth and subtly peated oak wood lingers for a long finish

Would I buy it again:

This is certainly an experience, and can be a little hard work to drink as it has so many complex and strong elements. Overall it is a meaty, savoury dram with pepper spice. It has a certain quality like a raw nerve or open wound that you want to keep prodding into, even though you know it may hurt. Actually it’s not really that painful to drink, but incredibly complex and strangely you keep coming back for more. I love it! One for the masochists, whatever you do do not waste this one on those who claim they don’t like peaty whisky – it will just reinforce their dislike. I have a feeling I’ll be back for more however, when this bottle runs dry.