Monday, June 2, 2014

New release - Ardbeg 'Auriverdes'

News of the annual Ardbeg Day release always creates a stir in the whisky industry and this year's is no different. This year's release, named Auriverdes, has been matured in American oak casks with specially toasted cask lids that were created specially for this whisky. The name means 'gold and green' and is the nickname of the Brazilian football team, the hosts of this year's football World Cup. In this case, 'gold' refers to the whisky and 'green' refers to the bottle ...

The Ardbeg distillery produces some of the peatiest and smokiest whiskies in the world. It is located on the south eastern coast of the famous Scottish whisky producing island of Islay. Ardbeg was founded in 1815 by John MacDougall, although records show a distillery operating on the site as far back as 1794. The current owners are drinks company Moet Hennessey, who took over in 1997. The distillery is small with a capacity of just one million litres per year. The range of single malt whiskies from Ardbeg has built up a cult following amongst whisky drinkers across the world.

The Auriverdes was released last Saturday (May 31), which was officially Ardbeg Day at the annual Islay Festival. The launch was supported by numerous football related events around the world, including a special game of 'mud football' in Edinburgh. It has been bottled at 49.9% ABV and is available at the distillery, via or at Ardbeg Embassies across the globe. The recommended retail price is £79.99.

Our tasting notes
The colour is pale gold and the nose has a pleasant mix of earthy and slightly acrid peat smoke along with some sweet vanilla and honeycomb.   Underneath is a distinct malty cereal aroma, some candied lemon and milk chocolate.  These are complimented by hints of ginger, menthol and cinnamon.  It is all very promising.

On the palate, this feels immediately spicy and hot with the peat smoke to the fore.  This has a chilli-like heat to it and a burnt, acrid edge to the smoke, which gives a drying effect.  Underneath is some much need sweetness in the form of vanilla, honey and butterscotch.  These notes are complimented by a delicious fruitiness that is a mouthwatering combination of fresh green apple and candied lemon peel.  Hints of dried apricot, cocoa powder, ginger and menthol further add to the depth and complexity.  A few drops of water softens the spicy heat and makes the whisky feel creamier.  The vanilla, honey and fruit come through stronger while the smokiness is pushed back and becomes more vegetal and grassy.

The finish begins with an injection of sweetness, with the honey note particularly evident.  This quickly fades to make the whisky increasingly dry.  The smoke licks around the taste buds and sits in the mouth for what seems like ages.  The chilli-like heat and earthy/woody spices also eventually fade to leave a bone dry ending.

What's the verdict?
This is another good offering in the long line of good Ardbeg Day/Islay Festival bottlings.  It comes across as not quite as punchy, feisty or peaty as previous releases or core range Ardbegs, but that is no bad thing in this case.  This allows the sweeter and fruity characters to shine through and the result is very enjoyable.  It also takes water very well, which allows these notes to shine even further.  As with previous releases, this is bound to sell rapidly so we recommend getting one ASAP if you want one.

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