Tuesday 11 June 2019

Tasted #457: Ardbeg Drum (46%)

We've been covering Ardbeg Day on this blog for a while now - back to 2013 in fact, and attending even further back. The annual celebration, held at the distillery during Fèis Ìle and throughout the world at Ardbeg Embassies and elsewhere, sees Ardbeg release a limited edition whisky around a central theme - from mythical sea creatures to soccer, to the future and even whisky's illicit history of smuggling.

2019's Fèis was no different, with Ardbeg celebrating Islay's rich history of carnivals with "Drum". Released in both regular and Committee Release guises, the whisky is said to be "imbued with the influence of carnival spirit, rum" and sees ex-bourbon spirit "rested awhile" in ex-rum casks from the Americas.

With official tasting notes proclaiming the whisky to show tropical notes of banana and pineapple, I'm sure I'm not the only whisky fan whose ears pricked up at the thought of a modern fruity, tropical Ardbeg.)

(For those who haven't had the pleasure of old Islay whiskies from the 1960s/1970s/1980s, like this 1973 15yo Ardbeg or this beautiful 1964 Bowmore, they're often hugely tropical, highly sought after, and sadly with price tags to match nowadays.)

Now, I wasn't expecting this new NAS release to evoke the glory of those old Islay whiskies, but I'll admit my curiosity was still piqued, and when MHDHK kindly sent me a bottle to review, I wasted no time jumping straight in...

Ardbeg "Drum" (Ardbeg Day 2019 Release) (46% ABV, NAS, Islay, Scotland, $163.50AUD, HK pricing TBC)
Colour: Light straw.

Nose: Unmistakenly Ardbeg at first - on the younger side. The banana notes are there, along with big briny / salty smoke, some lemon and hints of pine. 

Palate: Still youthful, but less so. Creamy and mouthfillying, the banana is still there but has become flambéed, joined by mandarin, milk chocolate drops, and vanilla essence. Quite tasty and more rounded and complex than the nose suggests.

Finish: Sweet, fruity smoke. Medium to long in length. Settling into an ever-so-slightly tannic finish.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale):  88/100.

These days it can be tough to produce a limited release in enough quantity to satisfy whisky lovers' demands around the world, whilst still ensuring a sufficiently different and enjoyable whisky. We again applaud Ardbeg for having done so.


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