Thursday, 26 June 2014

What More Can I Say?

 Ardbeg Auriverdes Scotch Whisky 700mL

Whisky: Ardbeg Auriverdes


Ardbeg Auriverdes



What can I say?

I love Ardbeg, I mean LOVE Ardbeg.  It was my first Islay love and holds a special place in my heart due to that. 

Don't get me wrong, I love all the Islay distilleries, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, Caol Ila, if it's got big smoke and peat, then I'm a happy man.

But like I said, Ardbeg holds a special spot in my heart.

So it's with great excitement that I look forward to Ardbeg Day every year.  Every year on June 1st our whisky friends at Ardbeg make us happy campers by bottling a "special release"

Galileo which was released in 2012 was easily my favorite Ardbeg to date, and worth every single penny.

And then Ardbog came out, a whisky that I'll soon review, a year after it's release now that everyone and their mom have made up their minds regarding it.

And then just 26 days ago, June 1st, Ardbeg released Auriverdes, a special bottling celebrating the upcoming World Cup.  The name in Portuguese means Golden (whisky) "Auri" in Green (bottle) "Verdes".  Golden whisky in a green bottle.

It's aged in second fill American ex bourbon barrels, with heavy charring on the lids, designed to create a mocha flavor in the whisky.

In theory this release is around 6600 bottles from what I can find online, it was distilled in 2002, which puts it around 11 or 12 years old.

And rounding it all out, it retails for around $200 AUS.

My wife and I recently flew out to Whisky Live in Sydney Australia and while over there I visited quite a few bottleshops who are run by friends and acquaintances.  While I was visiting the guys at the World of Whisky, they offered me a dram of the Ardbeg Auriverdes.

Let me at it!

Well first off it's a pale golden color and it's in a green bottle so it fulfills the name requirements right there.

The nose has heaps of vanilla, mocha, chocolate, citrus oranges, a little bit of bbq meat, light peat and smoke.

Seriously is this Ardbeg?  It is so very light.  Not bad, but not what I expected!

Let's give it a taste and see what happens.

Vanilla again, lots of vanilla, mocha, mangoes and peaches, black pepper and light peat again.

A very soft, but lingering finish with more vanilla and then at the very end the vanilla fades leaving smoke behind.

Well how do I say this?

What the hell....seriously what the hell?!

People are running around losing their heads over this whisky and this, THIS is what they're going nuts for.  A whisky that tops out at 12 years max, mild and inoffensive, that runs $200 or so a bottle?!

That's it, I've lost the plot.  For the last two years all I hear from the whisky world is people bitching about no age statement whiskies, how they're going to be overpriced and under deliver and yet these same people are running around losing their heads over the newest and greatest Glenmorangie and Ardbeg release?!

I love Ardbeg, I cant stress that enough, and I enjoy Glenmorangie, but I've got to be honest, I'm tired of seeing whiskies that I know, KNOW, are 10 and 12 years old sell for $180 and $200 a bottle.  Just because they've got a cool story behind it.  I mean people complained about the Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix running at $100 a bottle here in Australia, but these same people have no problem throwing down $200 on a Ardbeg or Glenmorangie?!

Let's bring things back into perspective folks, shall we?  No age statement whiskies can ROCK, the forementioned Snow Phoenix, Aberlour Abunadh, Ardbeg Corryvrackin, Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX etc, and I'm happy to throw down some serious cash on them as they can be absolutely brilliant, but what was different from all of those whiskies and this latest release from Ardbeg?

The price point!  Most of those whiskies started out selling for $100 or thereabouts, and yes prices did rise over the following years.  But they didnt start out selling for $200 a bottle.

Pardon me this rant, it's my birthday and I reckon I can get away with one naughty thing today, and I do expect to be shot and executed for taking this stance, but I for one am not on a boycott of them, but all of these newest Glenmorangies and Ardbegs that are overpriced and selling out in seconds as someone who was paid to gave another one of their whiskies World Best Whisky, well from here on out, I don't think I'll be buying any bottles of these whiskies without sampling them first. 

If they're worth it, I'll happily pay every penny, however if it's overpriced mediocre whisky, I'll at least saved myself $200.

Rant off.

Nose:       22/25
Taste:       22/25
Finish:      21/25
Balance:   20/25

Overall:    85/100

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

When Five Casks Become One!

Laphroaig Select Cask Scotch Whisky 700mL

Whisky: Laphroaig Select Cask


Laphroaig Select Cask



Young Sauternes

Laphroaig, a whisky that conjures strong feelings, either of love or hate, in both the hard core whisky drinker and those just getting into whisky.

You either love it or hate it.  There's not generally an "meh" factor to this bad boy.

I remember very well my first time encountering the Laphroaig 10 year old while enjoying a few drams with my father in law.

It was a bonfire in aroma and palate, taking me back to a time when vikings roamed the land, raping and pillaging and generally doing the sorts of things that vikings do.

I was chatting with the importers of Laphroaig the other day, regarding my whisky club and other fun whisky things and they mentioned this brand new Laphroaig.  A Laphroaig that immediately grabbed my attention when they described it.

Five different types of cask used, No Age Statement.  Pedro Ximenez seasoned hogs heads, Oloroso sherry buttes, quarter casks, first fill bourbon barrels, and new American white oak casks that have never been used before.

Coming in at 40% abv which made me a little sad, but all those casks had my interest.  I reckoined this would be a complicated little beast.

So after the meeting when I got home I cracked open the bottle and immediately the sweet smell of peat filled the room, to the point where I could smell the whisky four or five feet away. 

Holy crap!  That bad boy has got a hell of a nose on it!

Into my special glencairn tasting glass it goes and I can still smell it.

BBQ pork, iodine, vanilla, soft peat and smoke, much softer in the smoke and peat then I thought it would be, lacking the typical peat reek that Laphroaig is known for, sea salt, mild TCP, dark fruits, cherries.

Let's try it and see what we will see!

Light smoke on the palate, again lacking the intensity you expect from Laphroaig, slight cigarette ash, vanilla, lemon candy, cinnamon and nutmeg spice.

A soft finish with some medicinal tones and lemon candy ends the whisky.

Where does one start?

Well I already know people will whinge that it's a No Age Statement whisky and that it's coming sitting at 40% abv as opposed to something higher.  Two things that drive the whisky geeks nuts most of the time, and to top it off it doesn't have the monster Laphroaig intensity that you either love or hate.  It actually feels like the distillery is trying to create a new whisky, more geared towards drawing new and less experienced into drinking more of the Islay style whiskies.  I could be full of crap here, but it's my sneaky feeling.

And don't get me wrong, that's not a bad thing at all, in fact it's a great thing as far as I'm concerned.  The more people who are drinking whisky, especially the higher end whiskies, the more the distilleries will try and meet that demand, which in general leaves me a happy man!

Don't expect a knock your socks off, take your breath away, whisky in the Laphroaig Select Cask, however I personally think it's a solid quaffing whisky.

Nose:       21/25
Taste:       21/25
Finish:      19/25
Balance:   19/25

Overall:     80/100