I was a little disappointed when I cracked the bottle and had my first dram of Ardbeg, as it seemed on first blush like little more than a smoke-bomb for hardcore peat freaks (with an albeit awesome looking bottle!). But with each subsequent dram I have had, my estimation of it increases. At this rate I'll be giving it 105 points by the end of the bottle and shouting out "ARDBEGGGGG!" at future tastings of unrelated whiskies.
The wonderful nose combines deep smoke with sweet apples on top of a basic oiliness that makes it nostril-coating as you inhale the drink. This oiliness must be due to the fact that Ardbeg is non chill-filtered, and it produces a beautiful mouth-feel as well to support the dirty peat and apples. The smoke takes a backseat at first on the palate but then builds and builds to a hugely long, satisfying smoke-bomb finish. The smoke explosion at the end reminds me of Talisker's pepper explosion, except Ardbeg's explosion builds up more gradually. The finish on Ardbeg is insanely long, and you might even taste it the next day (this is a good thing, not like burping up Taco Bell).
I've read that there is some variation in the bottlings of Ardbeg 10, so I hope my bottle is representative, because at $50 or under this whisky is far and away the best value proposition of any I've had. Stock up! 96 points (A).
Other Ardbeg reviews:
The Whisky Exchange.