Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ardbeg 10, Old and New

I recently opened a newer bottle of Ardbeg 10 and found it did not live up to my previous tasting.  It seemed much maltier and younger than I remembered without as much of the wonderful mouth-feel or apple notes.  It still has great smoke and peat though, and I would guess I'd grade this bottle out at about an 89.

Doing some research on Ardbeg, I find that the distillery was moth-balled before Glenmorangie bought it in 1997, and that from 1997 until about 2008, Ardbeg 10 was released using old stocks of whisky.  The result was that much of this whisky was actually much older than 10 years and some of these bottles are extraordinary.  Luckily, I have an extra bottle from the time I bought my purchase for the first review.  The bottle code begins with L8, meaning it was bottled in 2008 and likely one of the last bottlings of the old stock of whisky.  The newer bottle I have begins with L9 and is likely one of the first bottlings of the newly available 10-year-old whisky.  It will be interesting to see how Ardbeg 10 continues to evolve in the future.


  1. This is interesting. I quite like to see variety even in a "standard" release from a distillery...I suppose I'm somewhat conditioned to expect "GlenAngus X" to always taste exactly the same, and I suppose it's sort of a testament (I guess...) to the distillers that it almost always does, but I think it's far more exciting to find variety amongst "X-aged" releases. In my mind, it hearkens back to the 19th and early 20th century, when this notion of standardization was thoroughly non-existent, though so too were the notions of quality control, so I guess it's more of an imagined past that I'm yearning for.

    At any rate, rambling aside, that's pretty cool, and I must say, I did not know that Ardbeg was mothballed in the recent past.

  2. Interesting post. If you watch Ralfy's vlogs at all (, he talks about this issue, and basically says the same thing: that while demand was low in the 90's and early 2000's, they were able to add older stock to the 10 year old to bring up the quality and sell more. But while demand is high, quality can go down and they keep selling. Ah, economics! Ralfy has been forcasting the reduction in quality for the last couple years.

  3. Glendronach Distillery is doing the exact same thing right now. They were mothballed from 1996 to 2002. As such the Glendronach 12 is composed entirely of whisky made back in '96 since the new make produced in 2002 isn't old enough (meaning the 12 year bottle is actually 15 years). I predict we'll start tasting a difference by 2014.