Ardbeg 8 Years Old 2004 – 33.121 ‘Barbecued pork on rosemary skewers’ ~ 59.0% (SMWS)

59% ABV, £55.70 per 70cl or £6.50 per dram

Score: 86/100

33.121

What they say:

Cask No. 33.121

Aromas gradually emerged – thyme, marjoram, tarragon, sage; puff candy sweetness, light smoke, sugared almonds, grilled pork and tinned peaches. On the palate, more definite smoke as waves of peat swelled in the mouth – barbecued pork, skewered on rosemary sprigs, fabric Elastoplasts, herbal cigarettes, coal and pleasant nippy heat at the end. With water, the nose became sweeter – sticky Madagascar vanilla, perfumed floral soap or pot-pourri and something of the sea. The reduced palate was sweetly delicious, with adequate smoke to balance – smoked pigeon breast with a vanilla, juniper and dark chocolate sauce; red grapefruit, ash and chalk. Islay’s first distillery, alphabetically.

Drinking tip: Milder than usual, but interesting – when you have skinned your knee and the nurse is busy.

Date Distilled: 1 July 04

Colour: Toasted golden oak

Age: 8 years 

Cask Type: First fill ex-bourbon barrel

Whisky Region: Islay

What I say:

So this was my first SMWS dram purchased since joining the society. We picked out this dram purely by name at the Bar at Ducks in Aberlady and then played guess the Distillery before looking up the code and details surrounding this cask. This one is from Ardbeg distillery (SMWS distillery code #33)

Colour:

Full gold

Nose:

BBQ spare ribs, smokey peat, lactic acid, cereal barley malt, beef and smokey bacon crisps, marmite, soy sauce, raspberry balsamic vinegar

Taste:

BBQ pork or smoked bacon lardons, meaty, malty and mildly spicy, marmite spare ribs (Malaysian style), peanut satay, golden syrup, honey smoked pork, honeyed & salted cashew nuts and oven-roasted bouquet garni (thyme, lavender, rosemary, bay leaf, tarragon)

Finish:

Medium length, lots of very pleasant fragrant wood smoke and residual savoury sweetness

Would I buy it:

Discovered at zero full bottles left, so sadly couldn’t purchase a bottle. Would have been very tempted to, if it had still been available. We were pleasantly surprised that this was from Ardbeg though it was distinctively a Kildalton malt from the outset. The sweetness and smoothness from such a young malt was a real bonus and the delicate nature of the peat-influence in the finish was simply divine. Our initial impression was possibly Laphroaig as it was peanut’y but lacking that real creosote flavour, then Lagavulin as it was malty and lactic and quite meaty in character, and finally pleasantly surprised to deduce it was Ardbeg due to the perfect combination of meaty and sweet.