Whisky review #4. Ardbeg Auriverdes
Ardbeg is a distillery that is wildly popular. Their signature rich, sweet smokey malts have earned them legions of fans worldwide and new releases are met with a frenzy that is like no other. An example of this is their recent release of a 21 year old (ancient for an official Ardbeg bottling) which sold out in seconds on their website despite an eye-watering £320 price tag.
The Islay distillery became hugely popular following some excellent releases, huge endorsement from a certain man in a Panama hat and no small amount of clever marketing. To call Ardbeg a whisky with a cult following is a huge understatement.
Each year in May, during Islay’s Feis Ile festival, the Island’s distilleries put out limited release festival bottlings. Ardbeg’s 2014 Feis Ile bottling was named after the Brazillian national football team as a nod to the year’s football World Cup. Auriverdes ‘Gold and Green’ not only referenced the Brazillian side but also referred to the whisky (Gold) and the trademark green Ardbeg bottle. Those marketing folk are ever so clever, don’t you think?
Nose. There is no mistaking this as anything other than an Ardbeg. Sweet tarry smoke wafts from the glass, and there is something quite fresh and herbal in there. I’m guessing this is a fairly young whisky as the nose is fairly spirit led. Perhaps to be expected from another NAS release.
Palate. Surprisingly the sweetness comes through ahead of the smoke (which isn’t far behind) and there is a beautiful hit of maple smoked bacon (American breakfasts) and it melts into a wonderful oily richness. Ardbeg used toasted cask lids for this release and claim coffee notes. This definitely comes through slightly later in the day alongside a slight menthol note
Finish. Medium in length and bounces between bitter and sweet. Damn, this whisky just wont sit still. It’s exciting and in the dying embers (peaty smoky embers) the sweetness wins out as the whisky mellows in to a vanilla haze.
Overall. I really enjoyed Ardbeg Auriverdes. It’s expensive (£70 on release and, if you can find it, double that now). I don’t think it is better than their standard releases which are superb (I’m a huge fan of Corryvreckan — the whisky that started off my whisky journey) but if you get a chance to try this one jump at it, because it is a little different and a damn good dram in its own right.