Review: Ardbeg Dark Cove

Category: Islay single malt scotch whisky

Origin: Ardbeg Distillery

Bottling: Luis Vuitton Moet Hennessy

ABV: 46.5%

Cost: £95.99

Ardbeg_Dark_Cove

What they say:

Ardbeg’s island home has a dark past. Centuries ago, at the dead of night, the early distillers would smuggle their whisky from the rocky shores of Ardbeg cove, to black-painted ships moored off the coast, where it would be spirited away to the Scottish mainland. This year, the shadowy history of Ardbeg’s homeland will be recalled as part of the annual festivities of the Islay single malt, when Ardbeg Day becomes Ardbeg Night.

The yearly celebration takes place on 28th May 2016, when Ardbeg’s loyal following – the Ardbeg Committee – and their friends will be invited to attend a series of special tasting events being held at night across the world. As they recall Islay’s past, Committee members can smuggle in a guest to the venue. Events in the UK will be held at Whistling Shop in London and Bramble in Edinburgh, further details are to follow.

Michael (Mickey) Heads, Ardbeg Distillery Manager, said: “Distilling and smuggling whisky was once rife on Islay, and before the Ardbeg Distillery was founded, the coastline roundabout was particularly notorious as a hideout for smugglers. In true smugglers’ style we will be keeping the finer details of this year’s Ardbeg Day celebrations under wraps a little longer, but rest assured they will be as intriguing as Ardbeg’s clandestine past. We will also have a special bottling, called Ardbeg Dark Cove – which pays homage to the shadowy past of Ardbeg’s coastline.”

Ardbeg’s latest expression Dark Cove, launches on Ardbeg Day (28th May), it is made up of whisky matured in sherry casks, married with hallmark ex-bourbon Ardbeg.

Ardbeg Dark Cove Tasting Notes at 46.5% ABV

Aroma

At first meaty, earthy and spicy, with bold notes of dark chocolate emerging against orange, treacle toffee, coffee and oak, a smoky background and a mysterious floral note.

Taste

The mouthfeel is almost tart, with raisins, dates, ginger and pepper spice surge and waves of smouldering charcoal, wood polish and creosote notes, leading to cured smoked ham and squid ink noodles.

Finish

Long, spicy and rich with notes of toffee, coffee and tar.

Dark Cove is available as a celebration of Ardbeg Day turning into Ardbeg Night. The whisky is bottled at 46.5% ABV and non-chill filtered for extra texture and mouthfeel.

The limited edition expression will be available to purchase from 28th May 2016 at Ardbeg Embassies* for a two week exclusive period. From June 11th, Dark Cove will be available at Ardbeg Embassies, whisky specialists and department stores with a RRP of £95.99.

Ardbeg Night will be celebrated at the distillery on Saturday 28th May 2016 and at participating Ardbeg Embassies around the world.

What I say:

Many thanks to Ardbeg and Quercus Comms Ltd. For the official sample. This is the general release (at 46.5% ABV) of Ardbeg’s Feis Ile 2016 bottling. Named Dark Cove in reference to the illicit distillation and smuggling that occurred from Ardbeg’s coastline prior to the days of licensed distilling. This expression is also naturally (as I was assured by Dr. Bill Lumsden’s blank refusal to use e150 caramel colouring in the Ardbeg range) dark coloured due to the use of sherry-cask maturation for a significant proportion of the whisky used in its construction.

Colour:

Bright and refractive copper gold (12/20) medium-sized tears with medium-large oily legs

Nose:

Sweet and resinous, wood-smoke and peat-smoke, more open with a lighter and sweeter smoke than the Committee Edition, medicinal, germolene, wood polish, camphor/mothballs, cigar boxes, tobacco leaf, woody oak, wood glue/cow gum, sweet cough drops, cherry and orange fruits, creamy

Taste:

Mouth coating and smooth initially, a zesty prickly spice develops with chilli and lime, toffee and ginger, paprika/cayenne pepper, peat smoke, ash, earthen and mossy, orange marmalade, malty cereal barley, raisin and fig dried fruits, dark chocolate with chilli flakes

Finish:

Long, toffee/honey-sweet, prickly spices, earthy peat with a hint of cigar smoke

Overall:

Slightly lighter in the palate than expected from the nose and colour, perhaps a little youthful and zesty in places, not as much sherry influence as say the Ardbeg Uigeadail expression.

Score: 84/100

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