Ardbeg Auriverdes – the Islay keepy uppy

Ardbeg Auriverdes

 

You thought the Peat Week here on Edinburgh Whisky Blog was over, didn’t you? Ha! Here comes a bonus track, hidden behind a full weekend’s-worth of silence.

Following the recent discussions about NAS I promised I would look towards the not-so-great, the bad and the outright appalling releases from the big and famous and within the limited means at my disposal slap their producers firmly on the wrists. My first attempt is however an outright failure and was doomed to be so from the start. After all, who goes to Ardbeg for a bad whisky…

Ardbeg Auriverdes, meaning gold-greens, ticks a few boxes for my most beloved Islay distillery. It serves as their annual Limited Edition release, due to launch on Ardbeg Day, Saturday 31st May, but it also points us in a not-so-subtle way to the fact that this year’s biggest sporting event, Football World Cup, is happening in the far-away land of Brazil. As you all know, football is religion over there and the national team, commonly referred to as the Canarinhos, is also sometimes called, you guessed it, the Auriverdes. Two different references to the colours of their kit. A tad unimaginative of course but what do you expect from the world of a sport played with a round ball?

Ardbeg’s nod to the World Cup doesn’t end here. The Ardbeg Day will be graced by the launch of the first ever Peat Football Tournament, culminating in the Ardbeg Swamp Football World Cup, taking place in Argyll in Scotland on the 28th and 29th of June. See their website for details.

You may love the creative ideas or you may loath them. I understand if you think the football thing is a bit obvious and heavy-handed. But personally I think it’s all very Ardbeg and if there was ever one brand that was going to pull a World Cup theme off, it was going to be them, right? And ultimately it’s good to see LVMH stick to their guns in creating what’s probably the most quirky and fun single malt brand in the world at the moment. Despite some minor points I raised in the past, I love everything they do and I’m the biggest sucker for their NAS Limited Edition releases in the world.

And that’s not because of their super-clever brand work, the visual aspect of their projects which is an absolute treat every time, the people, the place, the heritage or the legend of it all.

I love them because of the liquid. Doh!

 

Ardbeg Auriverdes
American oak, custom toasted heads
49.9% ABV
£79.99

Nose: Sharp, cold smoke. Burned rye bread toast. Smoked mackerel, crème brûlée, spun sugar.

Palate: Smoke, aye, but also rich coffee and praline overtones. Bitterness well in check and doesn’t behave like 50%-er.

Finish: Warming and, finally, quite tannic. Milk chocolate and vanilla with a spoonful of crushed charcoal.

Overall: This really takes me back to my favourite Ardbeg – the Renaissance. It has that clean-cut elegance and balance to it. Make no mistake, this is not the most intense Ardbeg out there and if you’re in the peaty game just to get repeatedly punched in the mouth, this is not it. This is, as strange as it may sound when talking about the Green Monster, subtle. Behind a smoky biceps there beats a heart of all things good and gentle.

 

The point of interest here is of course the specially toasted cask heads. My understanding is that each cask was fitted with two different ones, the press release mentions one imparting mocha character and the other geared more towards vanilla – presumably, and logically, this is achieved by two different toasting levels.

It has Dr Bill Lumsden written all over it, righ? Again, it’s refreshing and encouraging to see a major player in the premium category not shy away from experiments and, perhaps most importantly, talk about them and turn them into a commercial success. And while I personally think the price is a bit high and they would make me a much happier bunny if they shaved a tenner off it, if faced with the choice of spending £80 on 70cl of penis extension or truly tasty, interesting whisky, I choose to help the innovator, not the bore. And that’s all there is to it. The liquid will put a smile on your face, that much I can promise, but whether you want a bottle or not is, as always, up to you.

 

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