Review: Ardbeg Uigeadail single malt scotch whisky
Ardbeg Distillery – Moet-Hennessy
£49.38 from Master of Malt
What they say:
Official Tasting Notes
Rich and weighty with heady and smoky aromatics, this expression of Ardbeg is both intensely flavoured and perfectly integrated. 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 smoky coal fire and the deep scent of well-oiled leather brings warmth to the scene. The sweetness of treacle toffees and chocolate-coated raisins bring indulgence through the smoke.
With water, the deep smokiness increases in intensity, reminiscent of a Christmas pudding on fire. Tarry smoke and diesel engine oil enter the room bringing smells of an age gone by. Rich flowering currants and warm baked banana and walnut bread are served with simmering mocha espresso.
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 as Christmas cake begins to soak into the tongue. 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.
Amazingly long and chewy with lingering raisiny, deep mocha tones and rich aromatic smoke into the perfectly integrated finish.
RMW Staff Tasting Notes (earlier batch)
Nose: Rich, fruity, musty and leathery. With time and water, becomes very raisiny.
Palate: Huge! Earthy, rich sweetness, smoky and malty. Great balance and surprisingly drinkable at cask strength.
Overall: Amazing, but intense!
What I say:
Another review of Ardbeg’s Uigedail!?
Well for good reason I should add. I originally reviewed the Uigeadail back in September 2013 from a bottle I purchased at World Duty Free at Edinburgh Airport, likely bottled ~ 2009 or 2010. The sample reviewed here was tasted during an evening with Dr Bill Lumsden at Royal Mile Whiskies hosted Ardbeg tasting in celebration of their 200 year anniversary in 2015. During this tasting there was a free question and answer session, to which I posed to Bill the potential for drift in these NAS expressions and he very positively confirmed my suspicions.
Ardbeg Uigeadail is a NAS whisky and produced in batches. Not overtly so like the Aberlour A’Bunadh range which clearly states each batch upon the label, the Uigeadail has deeper and darker secrets that that. Hence many will refer to a bottling year or L-code (Laser spray code of a sequence of letters and numbers somewhere on the bottle – often on the glass behind the label from some manufacturers). Some of these codes e.g. L59501 29072014 14008062 from a 2014 bottled Uigeadail state the bottling date clearly within the sequence – *hint middle portion 29(th)07(July)2014(Year). Sadly I haven’t had the opportunity to always note down the code of every bottling of Uigeadail I have sampled, otherwise I would have been able to perform a reasonable multi-batch tasting of this range. Nevertheless Bill was able to confirm that Uigeadail is produced from whisky matured 100% in ex-dry Oloroso sherry casks, but with time the overall flavour profile may have drifted as the average age of the matured whisky used in the batches has changed [i.e. decreased] in age over the years it has been bottled.
Early batches of the Uigeadail varied in ABV, but a long line of batches have been produced strictly adhering to the 54.2% standard further confusing the batch issue. The bottle sampled at the tasting was introduced by Bill as having an ABV of 54.4%! So this was either an early batch bottling or (perhaps more likely) this was a standard 2014 bottling off of RMW’s shelf and Bill was havering about the ABV or I misheard/wrote down this information incorrectly but very clearly. Either way the chance of this being the same batch as reviewed previously was highly unlikely so I reviewed it again (plus I like from time-to-time to re-review whisky to see how calibrated my palate and scoring system is)
Ruby & copper amber (11/20), medium sized droplet tears
Tar and oil, spiced sweet leather, cinnamon and clove, gingerbread, gunpowder and cordite, peat smoke, sherry fruits
Meaty and fruity, prunes, raisins, spiced with plenty of hot red and black pepper, heavy oily peat smoke, dark chocolate and malt
Long and smoky, slightly drying and tannic
Overall perhaps a variation on a theme, massively peaty and chewy Ardbeg finished in Oloroso sherry casks – maybe a little less sweet and jammy and not so much vanilla in this batch which seems a little spicier and much more chocolatey? I enjoyed it just as much as last time anyway!