Strength: 57.1 %
Almost all Scotch is aged in casks that previously were used to mature other spirits. The benefits of this approach include cost savings but also increased freedom to shape a whisky's flavor profile. Most casks are sourced from American distillers of Bourbon, but a large number also come from sherry, rum, and exotic fortified wine houses. As a result of this spirits ecosystem, it is actually pretty rare for Scotch to be aged in new oak casks, and that seems a bit of a shame to me based on the results of the two Scotches I've tried that are partly matured in new oak: Glenmorangie Astar and the subject of this review, Ardbeg Corryvreckan. In both of these, the new oak imparts vibrant vanilla and nutmeg-like spice that is usually absent or diminished in Scotch.
Corryvreckan is a powerhouse of a dram: classic Ardbeg tar smoke, peat, big pepper, and aforementioned oak, vanilla, and nutmeg. Compared to other Ardbeg expressions, the oak is the most prominent characteristic of Corryvreckan. This is a little like taking the wonderful peat and oak combination of Laphroaig Quarter Cask and adding to it the peppery palate of Talisker (and throwing in a little more peat for the hell of it). Wonderfully balanced and complex with a nice oily texture and long smoky finish. 97 points (A+).
Other Ardbeg reviews:
The Whisky Exchange.