Review: Ardbeg Auriverdes single malt scotch whisky

Ardbeg Distillery – Moet-Hennessy

49.9% ABV

£124.95 available from Master of Malt

Score: 84/100

ArdbegAuriverdes

What they say:

Distilled with equal measures of skill and passion, Ardbeg Auriverdes – golden whisky (auri), unmistakeable green bottle (verde) – is destined to be the star of Ardbeg Day this year. The dram is rumoured to be a bit of a hot head on account of its toasted cask lids. The Ardbeg team is renowned for its technical expertise and Auriverdes is a winning example of this, with the toasted lids producing a mocha coffee flavour at one end, flowing into creamy vanilla at the other – truely a dram of two halves.

The team at Ardbeg have triumphed again. Technical skill, balance and perfectly timed maturation make this a WINNING DRAM!

Tasting Notes:

Colour:

Gold

Aroma:

Tarry and herbal notes with hints of mocha

Taste:

Coffee grounds pass to smoked root vegetables, while maple-cured bacon collides with hot-smoked salmon

Finish:

A lingering, smoky vanilla note

What I say:

Dram #5 from Royal Mile Whiskies hosted Ardbeg evening with Dr Bill Lumsden celebrating 200 years of Ardbeg. I had previously sampled Auriverdes at RMW not long after ‘Ardbeg Day’ and remember being reasonably unimpressed with this expression that seemed, well a bit tame and wishy-washy compared to previous Ardbeg expressions.

At this point in the tasting Dr Bill explained at length how they had really received a mixed bag of maturation stock when purchasing Ardbeg distillery. In fact the variability in stock was huge both from production variables to maturation in the Islay warehouses, with some casks revealing huge losses, even when compared to the recognised high loss rate from Islay warehoused casks. Auriverdes was made from younger casks that were mostly ex-bourbon but had been rebuilt with new cask heads which may (or may not) have been heat-treated ~  I kinda lost the place or interest here as my notes seem a bit thin. I was however much more impressed on this second tasting of the Auriverdes, again armed with an understanding of the maturation helped with recognising the flavour profile.

Colour:

Full amber gold (9/20) medium-small sized droplet tears

Nose:

Chlorine/swimming pool, spirity and vaporous, chocolate, coffee, mocha

Taste:

Milk chocolate, coffee, mocha, caramel, fudge, honey, some fruity peach and orange, develops into a richer treacle, liquorice and aniseed

Finish:

Long, woody (fresh/green) oak, creamy vanilla, peat smoke – fairly gentle/tame

Overall:

Not a classic Ardbeg peat-monster but actually quite subtle. Plenty of chocolate and possibly teetering on leaving my palate likes with a presentation of liquorice and aniseed towards the end (though I don’t seem to have specifically disliked this whisky for it). Classified as a strange beastie, not the least as despite it being released in 2014, this Ardbeg has bucked the current trend of being highly sought after by collectors and is still available one year later directly from Ardbeg’s shop at launch price!? This may well have fallen foul of the current trend of limited release Islay whiskies (where limited may mean any rather large number of thousands of bottles released – so actually not really that limited at all!). Anyway Dr Bill kinda sold this one to me at the tasting so I bought a bottle anyway. The low ABV may have convinced some people that this is constructed from much older (therefore greater loss to the Angel’s Share) casks, whereas Dr Bill. may have been telling us tongue-in-cheek that these were matured in a particularly ‘bad’ part of the warehouse that experiences higher than usual alcohol loss, hence low final ABV. Or perhaps they were just a little to generous in watering this one down during the bottling process – I guess we’ll never know?