A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, SMWS released their previous Ardbeg bottling. It was the 33.131 “A Mad Scientist on the Dockside”, and it was released for the 2013 Christmas outturn. As seems appropriate for current affairs this new bottling is a bit of a sequel to that 2013 one. It’s also from a 2nd fill ex-sherry butt and about the same age (8 years as opposed to 7). I didn’t get to try that last one but I jumped on the opportunity to try this one!
I’ll just get into a bit of background on Ardbeg and why this bottling is so exciting. Currently Ardbeg has only 3 official core expressions: Ardbeg 10, Uigeadail, Corryvrecken. They also release limited edition expressions a couple times a year. However, they have not released a new age statement bottling for a few years and independent bottlings of Ardbeg are scarce. As Ardbeg has quite the following among whisky drinkers, any new Ardbeg usually causes quite a stir in the community. The official limited edition NAS expressions usually command quite a price, ranging from £85-125 and independent bottlings seem to start around £150 these days. The independent bottlings also tend to be from bourbon casks. Thus the 33.132 presents a new and exciting treat for Ardbeg enthusiasts. All this is just to provide some context for the price tag. £120 for an 8 year old whisky certainly seems steep but in the current world of whisky this is sadly no longer shocking. Well as Ardbeg knows, the whisky market is a rollercoaster and we’ll just have to see where it goes.
Distillery: Ardbeg Distillery
SMWS Code: 33.132
SMWS Name: Beauty and the Beast
Age: 8 Years Old
Cask: Ex-Sherry Butt 2nd Fill
Distill Date: 24 May 2007
Outturn: December 2015
Bottle Numbers: 624
In your face aggressive peat, smoked ham, cranberry sauce. Split pea soup. Asparagus. Apple gummies.
Heavy medicinal cigar peat. Surge of over concentrated sweet red berries. Fiery. It burns on the tongue like a hot poker or hot coals. Tar and hint of brine. A bit like hot rubber tires. Cork bark.
Cigar ashes, tar, and menthol.
A real beast just like it’s name. Brutal on the palate. Just an overload of head smashing peatiness and fire and red fruits and berries. Kind of leaves you dazed and confused. Definitely not for the faint of heart. The nose reminds me a bit of the earlier Uigeadails but it feels more unforgiving on the palate. I think it’s a fun dram and really shows off the strength of a young whisky. Probably not something to drink all night but good for getting a party started. If you are an Ardbeg fan, you’ll probably love this. If you are a peat head, you’ll probably love this. If you enjoy peat but are not super keen on it, you’ll probably not likes this. When you see how much this is, you’ll probably scratch your head unless you have a big check book and a bigger whisky appetite. I think if Ardbeg had released this as one of the limited editions, it would be flying off the shelves. Although I doubt SMWS will have any trouble moving these bottles.