Monday 15 October 2018

Ardbeg Twenty Something 22 Year Old (Tasted #401)

Following on from last year's limited release - the Ardbeg Twenty Something (23yo), Ardbeg has released a follow up release, also dubbed Ardbeg Twenty Something although this time, a 22 Year Old made from spirit distilled in 1996. This year's release is as a tribute to the turbulent days of mid-nineties and also to those Ardbeggians that have stuck around, persisted and kept the Ardbeg spirit alive in the mid 1990s - one of those Ardbeggians being the current Ardbeg Distillery Manager, Mickey Heads.

The year 1996 was a glorious year which saw Metallica and Spice Girls share the music chart and Windows NT4 (what's that again?) released, though for Ardbeg, 1996 was a tumultuous time when the distillery was closed in July put up for sale by its owner at the time, Allied Distillers.

The period between the 80s and 90s was a rough period for whisky distillers, production at the Ardbeg Distillery slowed to a trickle and its future was looking very much in tatters. This particular release, with spirit from that year symbolises the challenges and triumph from that era and gives us a glimpse into what Ardbeg distillation had been like then.

The glorious days that followed are a stark contrast to the challenges from that era. Today, Ardbeg endures, partly (or wholly) thanks to the efforts of the small army of Ardbeggians worldwide. The loyal Ardbeg Committee, founded in 2000 is to be recognised for its unwavering dedication to the distillery. The classic Ardbeg 10 which was released in the same year signifies the continuing success of Ardbeg through to this day.

Mickey Heads, as one of the handful of believers from that period provided his take on the new Twenty Something release:
"A sense of immense pride, hope and a touch of idealism were key ingredients in this whisky. Created with spirit from the retired Still which now stands in the Distillery courtyard, this bottle is a magnificent reminder as to why Ardbeg should never be allowed to disappear. Ardbeg Twenty Something is for those who believed wholeheartedly in the Ardbeg Distillery, which is why it's fitting that this rare whisky - a 22 Year Old - will be enjoyed by our loyal Committee Members, who maintain that same belief."

Ardbeg Twenty Something 2018 (46.4% ABV, 22 Year Old, Islay, Scotland, A$720)
An Ardbeg that you can sit with for some time. What initially comes off as fresh and bright slowly and subtly morphs into the classic Ardbeg notes that we may be more familiar with, sweet peat, smoke and dryness. The nose is surprisingly vibrant and layered with subtle smoke. The ex-bourbon casks may have its part to play in shaping the sweeter and lingering palate.

Colour: Straw

Nose: Big tropical fruits bearing a mixture of star fruits, mixed berries, passion fruit with a hint of creaminess of milk chocolate. There is also the sweetness of citrus candy thrown in for good measure. The Ardbeg smoke then subtly punches through.

Palate: The freshness from the nose prevails on the palate, with some more tropical fruits, vanilla joined by a big peppery and aniseed punch before settling into some smoked oyster over a bonfire on the beach complete with the natural brine from the oyster.

Finish: The finish is very long, with hints of sweet peppermint and dryness that prevails.

Rating (on Hendy's very non-scientific scale): 92/100.


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