Ardbeg BlaaacK, Ardbeg Day Committee 20th Anniversary, 46%, OB, NAS, 2020
Smokey and Peaty
Note: We assign every bottle we review to one of five Flavour Camps, based on the most dominant flavours found. The Flavour Camps are : (1) Fragrant and Floral, (2) Fruity and Spicy, (3) Malty and Dry, (4) Rich and Round and (5) Smokey and Peaty. To learn more about each Flavour Camp, please click here.
The Blaaack expression is one of the most highly anticipated releases from Ardbeg, and we could barely find one of these still floating around at a reasonable price. Thankfully, we have gotten ourselves some. Check out samples to try from our shop!
This is our inaugural post and what a year it has been… We had mulled over when would be a good time to kickstart the site but 3/4 way through and I guess now is as good a time as any. We hope everyone is hanging tight out there!
So what better a bottle to start with than the Ardbeg BlaaacK, whose philosophy - the bottling supposedly the black sheep of the lot, is quite befitting of the odd year we’re having.
|Distillery: Ardbeg||Brand: Ardbeg|
|Region: Islay, Scotland||Status: Active|
|Distributor: Original Bottling (OB)||Classification: Malt Whisky|
|Style: Single Malt||Cask: NZ Pinot Noir Cask Finish|
|Age: NAS||Abv: 46%|
Behind the Label
Some groundwork to start with…this NAS Ardbeg was matured in Pinot Noir casks from New Zealand (hence the sheep references, given their 7 to 1 sheep to human ratio). This cask style is a first for the Islay distillery (and their second wine cask bottling if I’m not mistaken, someone go check that up) and was bottled for the Committee’s 20th Anniversary.
Click on Ardbeg's mascot Shortie, the Jack Russell, to be an Ardbeg Committee member. We've got you covered.
Which just as a heads up, the Committee is open for any person who buys an Ardbeg to join and word has it you even get to co-own a small plot of peat with the Committee… it’s co-everything these days, so why the heck not?
As usual, every year’s Ardbeg Day release comes in two ABVs, the stronger one that is released only to committee members (50.7% ABV) and the lower proof one (46%) that is available to the rest of us. So let’s dive right in to the 46% bottling.
One reason for the whisky world’s interest in this expression is that the use of Pinot Noir wine casks was a first for Ardbeg, and a rather unusual innovation. How does Pinot Noir change the character of the whisky? You’d have to try it for yourself here!
First up! Packaging! Because we drink with our eyes first, box looks very premium, there’s a nice gloss to it, its got a good weight to it, and its well adorned with sheep…cute!
Taking the bottle out very carefully, and it’s a fully black bottle, undeniably cool. Totally opaque, you can’t even see through it. The contrast of the silver heavy label is a nice contrast to the black bottle.
Gonna unbottle it and pour some out.
Nice amber colour, nicely flickers in the light. Looks pretty heavy bodied by the looks of it.
Nosing it, you get that smoky barbequed meat peat which is pretty much expected from Ardbeg (they give you a small plot of peat after all, we get it you have a lot of peat).
An earthy porcini crusted tenderloin and a glass of red would probably be manifesting this nose. (Image Source: Epicurious)
Smokiness fades and you get slight jam-my tartness, alittle like cherries and blackberries, and there’s also a good base of of earthiness to it, very wine-like, with a good hint of fresh harvested truffles (soil and all).
On to the palate, good ol’ familiar Ardbeg with the sooty peat, but this time it doesn’t get too overwhelming but definitely packs a mouthful. Very big on the mouthfeel but at the same time velvet-y and smooth. Feels very lush as it coats the palate, as expected, its as heavy on the palate as it looks when your swirl it around.
Jammy like a cherry pie. (Image Source: Chew Out Loud)
Makes way for what really tastes like wine. Here comes the fruit jam, the cherries, blackberries, stone fruits. It definitely gives you stewed fruit/cherry pie, sweet, mellow with an edge of tartness similar to green apples. There’s some ripened strawberries and peach in there.
Underlying it there is a solid butter biscuit / cinnamon chai latte foundation that is carrying it through.
Rich maltiness coupled with spicy cacao and spice notes gives this dram a good base. (Image Source: Splenda)
As the wine fades, you get some espresso, mocha, chocolate… well mocha is coffee with chocolate right? Its there but not overpowering, very much back palate but definitely noticeable.
The finish is fairly long, creamy but yet refreshing, not as heavy as you might expect here. Leaves pretty cool and minty. A good balance between cask and distillate, would go great with a steak dinner.
We really enjoyed the wine character in this, particularly the notes of cherry and blackberry jam. But our words can only describe so much- grab an actual sample of this whisky and experience it for yourself at our shop!
This was really great! Very complex and also surprisingly balanced but yet distinctively Ardbeg. There was a good interplay of flavors that gave me enough to think about but yet didn’t overstay its welcome.
Its was heavy enough to give you a very lush mouthfeel but light enough that you’d pour another glass. It leans more towards a sweeter creamier side of Ardbeg that we haven’t seen.
This one felt like a hug in a snow cabin. Ever seen an Asian Santa Claus before?
OOF! A baked alaska would be awesome right now. How many desserts can you do in a day? My personal record is 5. (Image Source: Food Network)
You’d like this if you like Apple Pies, Chai Lattes, Baked Alaska with a side of lemon meringue and smoke, or just wine in general.
Didn’t try it with water since it was already packing its weight. If you do get your hands on this great bottle please drop us your review and we’ll have it published.
Did you try it with water? How was it and should we give it another go? Or if you got your hands on the higher proof 50.7% bottling, how did that compare with the 46%?
You can try the Ardbeg BlaaacK at Marcy's Restaurant located at 39/40 Duxton Road. They have great seafood dishes cooked in really creative ways, from a refreshing Hamachi Aguachile served with Jalapeno, one mouthful hearty Crab Toast, and a delectable red wine-braised Octopus with Rigatoni. Our whiskies were specially selected to complement Marcy's seafood menu, so head over and try it individually on its own, or as part of a 3-course tasting flight for an elevated experience.
They're now open for bookings!
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