Ardbeg Perpetuum

Maker: Ardbeg, Ardbeg, Islay, Argyll, Scotland, UK (LVMH)20161220_085145.jpg

Region: Islay

ABV: 47.4%

Michigan state minimum: $100

Appearance: Very light gold.

Nose: Grilled peaches, oak, fireplace ash, cigarette smoke (Marlboro-ish), high corn bourbon, peat.

Palate: Full bodied. Butterscotch, peat ash.

Finish: Alcohol, dry chipotle chilis, sherry, fairly short.

Parting words: Is there better way to end 2016 than with a review of a whisky that was released in 2015? Yes, many better ways. I decided to review this anyway, since I picked it up late this year.

Perpetuum was released in 2015 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Ardbeg distillery. Many distilleries in Scotland were “founded” around 200 years ago. This is no coincidence. Beginning in 1816 and culminating in the excise act of 1823, the UK government passed a series of laws creating a level playing field for distillers in Scotland vs those in Ireland and England. Many illegal distillers went straight, refounding their operations and many new distilleries started up.

Perpetuum is a very good whisky. It’s classic Ardbeg: smoky, spicy, but still complex.Problem is, I’m not sure it’s good enough to justify the $20 markup over Uigeadail which is very similar. The well-reviewed and higher ABV Corryvreckan is $10 cheaper, too. So while Perpetuum is very good, it’s not a very good value. Ardbeg Perpetuum is mildly recommended.

Ardbeg Uigeadail

Maker: Ardbeg, Islay, Scotland, UK (LVMH)Ardbeg_Uigeadail

Region: Islay

Age: NAS

ABV: 54.2% ABV

Appearance: Medium copper with thin, clingy legs.

Nose: Smoldering campfire, cinnamon, peat, citron, old oak.

On the palate: Full bodied and rich. Hardwood ash, caramel, fruit gum, honey.

Finish: Heat, then ash, then more heat with a background of fruit.

Parting words: Uigeadail, named after the loch from  which the distillery draws its water, is the next step up from the 10 year Ardbeg. Most of Ardbeg’s expressions lack age statement, partially because the distillery was shut down for a few years in the 1980s and produced very little in the 1990s, but Uigeadail is clearly older than 10 years, at least on average.

If one loves smoky single malts, there is nothing not to love about Uigeadail. It’s hardy and smoky but with more finesse and balance than its younger stable mate. My only complaint is the price. The Michigan state minimum of $75 is high, especially when compared to its direct competition like Laphaoaig Quarter Cask ($57) and the limited edition Lagavulin 12 y/o cask strength which was also in the $75 range. That said, Uigeadail has more finesse and more power than those two respectively, is non-chillfiltered, natural color and cask strength, all of which are big plusses. While I’d like to see it at a lower price, it’s probably worth what I paid for it. Ardbeg Uigeadail is recommended.

Glenmorangie- The Original

Maker: Glenmorangie, Tain, Scotland, UK (LVMH)Glenmorangie%2010y%20original%20l

Region:  Highlands- Northern.

Age: 10 y/o

ABV: 43%

Appearance: Pale gold

Nose: Malt, alcohol, wildflower honey, dried flowers, hint of oak.

On the palate: full bodied, sweet and a little hot. Sugar cookies, orange blossom honey (yes, I can taste the difference), alomond extract, vanilla.

Finish: Strong malt notes followed by an assertive sweetness. Even with water, the finish is still pretty hot.

Parting words: At ten years of age, most bourbons are hitting their peak or at least are close to it. At ten most single malt Scotches, especially those made on the mainland, are barely out of diapers. The Original is a good example of that. Not to say it’s not tasty, it definitely is, it just  lacks depth. It’s all sweetness and malt and not much else. The Original is priced reasonably for a single malt at $40 Michigan State Minimum and I would take it over some of its 12 y/o competition like Glennfiddich, Glenlivet, Macallan and Dalmore. Glenmorangie The Original is recommended.