Monday, March 14, 2011

Review: Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Ardbeg Corryvreckan
Price:  $80-$90
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:
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1 comment:

  1. I bet new American oak is a bit more expensive. I think it also has more unusual flavor notes, so perhaps most distilleries are being shall we say, conservative?

    Interesting note, aren't Glenmorangie and Ardbeg owned by the same company?