Ardbeg Drum, NAS, 46 %
It is that time of year again. Today is Ardbeg Day, and the special release this time around is the Ardbeg Drum. It has been matured in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in ex-rum casks from the Americas.
Ardbeg Day has been a global happening for all Ardbeg fans since 2012. This is part of the Islay Whisky Festival (Feis Ile), which has been going since 1985. A carnival has been part of this celebration of Gaelic literature, music and culture. Since around 2000 the whisky distilleries on Islay have taken active part in the celebrations and the spectacle just continues to grow year over year. I was on Islay for the first half of this year’s Feis Ile, and I’ll report further on that shortly.
Ardbeg’s theme this year is carnival, and the link is both to the beginnings of the festival and to their own recent history. Hamish Scott, the distillery manager between 1964 and 1977, is well known for having modernized the distillery and created the style of legendary Ardbeg bottlings from the 70s and 80s. Hamish had previously worked as a distillery manager at the rum producer Diamond Distillery in Guyana before arriving at Ardbeg.
Ardbeg Drum is the first official bottling from Ardbeg with a finish in rum casks.
You can buy the Ardbeg Drum most everywhere staring today, and it will likely be sold out most places fairly quickly as well. You can get it in Norway the price is NOK 1280 (10850901).
Nose: Unmistakable Islay dram at first whiff. It fills the room in all the right ways. But let's sniff a little closer. OK, it's briny and maritime. Wood smoke with a chocolate touch. I could not really detect a whole lot of influence from the rum cask at first, but with time it does take on a lighter and more tropical sweetness. Mango, banana and honey melon.
Taste: Medium body and medium plus sweetness. Peppery soot, vanilla and ginger. Underneath that I find tropical fruits; mango and green banana. Light spiciness. Oily and somewhat dry at the same time - makes you ponder - makes you wonder. With time the peat morphs into both ashes, coal and yesterday’s beach bonfire.
Finish: Medium long finish. Sort of peppery still. The sweetness comes through more now. Earthy sweetness of wet leaves and rhubarb. Mint chocolate towards the end - massive After Eight vibes. Definitely green right there.
Comment: This should be called Ardbeg After Eight - with a tropical twist.