Ardbeg Twenty Something – 22 Years Old
Colour: Pale, moonlit gold. (One suspects the ex-bourbon barrels were second, possibly even third fills).
Nose: Peat is evident, but it’s restrained, as you’d expect for a whisky for this age. In truth, the nose has some commonalities with a good Bowmore…it’s slightly maritime, with sea spray, saline, and coastal notes, but there’s also hints of fruits.
Palate: Sweet on first sip and “darkly” peaty, mixed with more traits of the sea: Squid ink, sea urchin, and also potato skins. Texturally, it’s a lighter Ardbeg – more peaty than smoky, the peat is rich and deep, but it’s silky and refined, rather than brash or bombastic. There are doughy notes – perhaps fresh white bread rolls? – which give way to light fruits, namely rockmelon (cantaloupe) and orange citrus peel. An undercurrent of vanilla sweetness never strays too far from the action.
Finish: Humbugs and licorice mints portray the sweetness initially, but the sweetness slowly transforms into a green bitterness, perhaps like eating raw vegetables. The peat stays constantly brooding on the tongue, and the soft undercurrent of smoke, fruit, and vanilla leaves a welcome footprint behind.