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  • Writer's pictureHarold

Ardbeg Scorch & Ardcore Special Committee

Once you get past all the marketing hoopla, Ardbeg really does do a nice job of explaining what the hell you’re actually drinking. Scorch is dressed up in a nice tale of Game of Thrones-esque, mythical flying creature storytelling…but what the House of Ardbeg has basically done here is just release a modern version of an older committee favorite. As opposed to Ardcore which premiered “Black Malt Barley” to the Scotch whisky world, along with some of the most frightening, nightmare inducing punk inspired costume choices from Dr. Bill himself. Oddly enough, all video evidence seems to have been scrubbed from the interwebs...

 
Ardbeg Scorch - Special Committee Only Edition 2021 – 51.7%
Bottle Image credit: Whiskybase

Ardbeg Scorch

Special Committee Only Edition 2021

51.7%


Released a decade earlier…Alligator was a popular bottling that essentially used heavily charred bourbon barrels, aka char level 4, aka alligator charred (for their scaley appearance). Heavily charred/toasted casks are having a bit of a renaissance (expanding into French/European oak as well) in the Scotch world, so naturally it would find it’s way into a limited edition bottling somewhere…again. Although Dragon’s kind of look like an alligator…you know like, if you just threw some wings on it… Maybe? Sorta?...there’s been no polishing of an old turd here though. Alligator was/is a fantastic pour! And the reception from that bottling, alone is reason enough to believe Scorch could be solid.


Appearance: Deep gold/pale brown

First Whiff: Lemonade, without all the sugar.

Nose: Modern Ardbeg here…citric, dry, and ashy. Grapefruits. Salty wood, perhaps “tarry ropes” would be the more common association. Hay bales lead into the feinty/chalkier side.

Palate: Wonderfully oily. Viscous but not thick. Dry and warming from the sour citrus notes…grapefruit and lemon all the way. Medicinal on the back end. Latex band aids for sure, earthy/mossy kind of peat…again modern Ardbeg.

Finish: Ashy coal limoncello.


Summary: Heavily toasted or charred barrels typically bring out the deeper/robust American oak notes…coconut, caramels, vanillas, etc… but Ardbeg’s spirit was clearly a bit stubborn in the maturation phase, doing a great job of holding on to its strong Islay character/DNA. Alligator had the slight edge, for me when I did a comparison a couple years ago…better mouthfeel (little thicker and chewier), and more of those sweeter oak notes made its way into the bottle, which currently, I prefer to the sour citrusy side of this one.

IDS SCORE: 88

 
Ardbeg Ardcore - Special Committee Only Edition 2022 – 50.1%
Bottle Image credit: Whiskybase

Arbdeg Ardcore

Special Committee Only Edition 2022

50.1%


Blame the Americans and our silly little (actually booming) craft beer industry for this next one. I’m not sure how “Black malted barley” is any different than roasted malt barley like we’ve seen from Balvenie…as recent as their “Day of Dark” 26 year old, or even from in house, LVMH’s sister brand…the Glenmorangie Signet’s famous “chocolate malt,” but alas…a first for Ardbeg, surely. And also, many thanks to the Ardbeg marketers for their punk rock-inspired design on this one, cause clearly…we all needed to see Dr. Bill throw on a leather jacket, some hair gel and nightwalker-level makeup in order to appreciate our whisky.


Appearance: Pale straw

First Whiff: Mossy as hell

Nose: Pretty straightforward, clean Ardbeg here. Citric/sour. Mossy/medicinal style peat, not as feisty as the Wee Beastie. Some seaweed, certainly along with grassy wet moss. Slightly floral too, tomato vines.

Palate: Thick but soft, breaks down like chocolate pudding. Not sweet, not bitter. More of a confectionary type of chocolate, like chocolate mousse cake. Feels young, giving off cereal notes like fresh wort. Barnyard hay and creosote.

Finish: Medium-short. Not particularly memorable. Some thinned out, sour citrus and citronella on the way down.


Summary: This felt too “chemically” for me. The eye test tells me this was a young whisky, possibly aged in refill bourbon, or both. The taste confirms it but being a NAS, we’ll never know. My guess would be somewhere in that 5-10 year range. Perhaps it was announced on an interview or YouTube presentation somewhere but I’m not sitting through a song and dance for some answers. Experiments are necessary, and a Dr. Bill experiment is always interesting…especially when you hear him talk about it…hopefully with less shtick than this one needed…but for such an average pour I would’ve liked some more transparency about the age/cask selection rather than a complete marketing ploy.

IDS SCORE: 84

 

Ardbeg Scorch & Ardcore Special Committee

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