Ardbeg Rollercoaster Review

Ardbeg Rollercoaster

As Ardbeg Rollercoaster is about to go on sale in an hour or so (Monday, 9am), we give you a line or two of very subjective review. Euan Martin and Chris Hoban sampled the whisky on Thursday and came up with their own tasting notes and opinions without consulting each other on the night!

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Euan: Firstly, big thank you to Mike from the Water of Life Society for the invite to the preview tasting. I (unlike Chris ‘Mr. Responsible’ Hoban) went for all six Ardbegs on offer during the evening, so by the time we got to the Rollercoaster my taste buds were, well and truly warmed up. Whilst Chris wanted to go in with a fresh palate, I thought it would be better to view Rollercoaster within the context of the range. So after the New Make, the 10 year old, Blasda, Uigeadail, and Corryvreckan it was time for the big one. The new Ardbeg. The most written about distillery in Scotland. Limited release. True collector’s item. Sure fire bet to sell out. But is it any good for drinking?

On the nose

Euan: Smoked fish got me straight away. Smoked and peppered cold mackerel in particular. There is surprising spice in here – cumin stood out, along with the pepper. A slightly stale multi-grain loaf (that’s a fine pretentious tasting note there).  Mint as well – if you have ever been chewing gum to the point where it as almost lost its’ flavour, that was what I got here.

Chris: Nettles, bbq smoke, cloves and then a lingering sweetness of green apple, honey, mint and bananas. Maybe a slight hint of white chocolate too.

On the palate

Euan: When it came to drinking time I got a remarkable burst of vanilla, not something I would usually associate with Ardbeg. The smoke came along in the shape of burnt toffee, there was a faint seaweed hint as well. Despite being a cask strength, the alcohol was very faint. On the finish, I got a Lagavulin-esque tar and lingering chilli. Water destroyed it, I wish I hadn’t bothered. Thankfully I got a little top up later on to amend this mistake.

Chris: Oakiness, leather, slight sweetness and apples. Peppers, mint and nuttiness. Unbelievable finish; Coal fire, tabasco sauce, spicy and rich.

Overall

Euan: Overall impressions? It’s a good whisky, obviously the casks have been chosen well. At the end of the night I was certain I would attempt to buy one on Monday. But in the harsh light of day, I’m not so sure. I think that perhaps I over-hyped Rollercoaster in my head, having been slightly disappointed by Ardbeg’s previous two releases (Supernova and Corryvreckan) and so when it didn’t blow my socks up there was an inevitable feeling of being let down. But that’s my problem – anyone who chooses to part with £50 on Monday and is a fan of Ardbeg is very unlikely to be disappointed.

Chris: Corryvreckan’s bigger brother. Rich and long finish seals a tasty wee dram. The unfortunate thing for this whisky is that Ardbeg have such high standards that it doesn’t beat Uigeadail or the Ten. Better than Corryvreckan though.

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Judging honours

World Whiskies Awards Judge Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards Judge Global Scotch Masters Judge Scottish Whisky Awards Judge