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  • Writer's pictureHarold

Secret Ardbegs

As we're all well aware...LVMH can be quite stingy with their casks, so unless you cough up an arm and a leg for one, straight from the distillery...we're usually left with what the IB's are able to source from old blending stock, which often comes with these ambiguous names. If you happened to have skimmed through my "Teaspooned Laphroaig's" tasting from a couple weeks ago, you may have caught some of my thoughts on how I treat, or choose to discuss these so-called "secret/unknown, blended" or "teaspooned" bottlings...or in this anagram and blender's nickname...for when the distillery is so heavily promoted outside of the label. In short...for the sake of mine, and everyone else's sanity...I'll be talking about Ardbeg today.

Ardbeg (Dramfool) "Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky" 2006/17 Year |63rd release - Red Bag #2| Bourbon Hogshead #3 – 57.2%
Bottle Image Credit: Whiskybase

Ardbeg (Dramfool)

"Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky"

2006/17 Year |63rd release - Red Bag 2|

Bourbon Hogshead 3 – 57.2%

If anyone else in the industry is using, or has used anagrams as effectively as Bruce and Colin from Dramfool have in recent years, I am certainly unaware. Just go and ask Elderly Elvis Tilting. Now as I recall, Red Bag 1 was a vatting of two bourbon hogsheads, while Red Bag 2 is a sister hoggie from those two (distilled on the same day), allowed to age an extra year. To make things a little confusing though, both labels state "Matured in Bourbon Hogsheads," while both being marketed as "hogshead." But none of that really matters, in the wonderful world of Scotch whisky labeling, as both of these are technically still just considered "single cask" bottlings at the end of the day. Confusing? Perhaps just a tad...

Appearance: Pale/Medium brown

First Whiff: Margarita mix.

Nose: Initially chalky/mineral but opens up into sour, lime coconut patties and juniper berries. Some more bright, citrusy, Juicy Fruit gum notes...lemons, tangerines, bergamot. And a subtle banana sweetness...ripe yellow bananas. With water: Softer/sweeter side of citrus now...vanilla custard and buttery caramels/butterscotch.

Palate: Bright and sharp, lemon citrus hits first and turns into an oily, dense coating of tart, sour lemonheads and limoncello. With water: More salinic, creamy, salty prosciutto.

Finish: Mineral and metallic with a lasting tart citrus impression, which takes kindly to water.

Summary: A little singular, and mostly typical of the modern style Ardbeg. Water and significant air time chased away most of the sour notes and brought out the more, gentle American wood notes...vanilla and caramels.


Ardbeg (Decadent Drinks)  "Kildalton" 2008/14 Year |WhiskySponge - Islay Sponge - Part 3| Refill Sherry Butt – 60%
Bottle Image Credit: Whiskybase

Ardbeg (Decadent Drinks)

"Kildalton" 2008/14 Year |WhiskySponge - Islay Sponge - Part 3| Refill Sherry Butt – 60%

We've got another instance of "bottler's strength" used here, which Angus is famous for not only doing, but clearly stating whenever/wherever necessary, which should be applauded. Always one to champion transparency, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more passionate, whisky enthusiast who just happens to be an independent bottler (and soon distiller) as well.

Appearance: Chestnut oloroso and copper

First Whiff: Pepperoni pizza rolls.

Nose: Ashy, coal covered peaches and lemons cooked in a peppery seafood broth. Yeasty iodine and warm a bonfire on a beach. The alcohol is there, but plays 2nd fiddle to the peat at this point.

Palate: Oily, tingly, at first...builds to sharp cut of (smoked) sliced ham/salty pork bits, pepperonis. Dry citrus through and through, not sugary enough to be lemonade. Bitter coffee grinds towards the back. With water: Tempered the tartness a bit, bringing out some of the sootier, caramel, warm honey notes. A bit of smoked salmon too.

Finish: Long, slightly numbing and metallic...coppery. Lingering burnt incense as you exhale.

Summary: More of a classic style Ardbeg with the ashy/coal side overpowering it a bit at times. The refill certainly allowed the distillate to shine. The bottler's strength was a good start, but I thought it needed a bit of water, to get a little more from the wood.



Secret Ardbegs


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