Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19yo

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Some very exciting news came out of Ardbeg a couple of weeks ago when they announced that, for the first time in 20 years, a new age statement expression will be joining the distillery’s core range. Ardbeg Traigh Bhan (pronounced Tri-Van) has been inspired by the heavenly vista of Islay’s Traigh Bhan – known locally as The Singing Sands. This 19 year old expression will be released in annual small batches (no info on number of bottles at the mo) with the first batch being matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso sherry casks, before being bottled at 46.2%.

Dr Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks, said: “A new, permanent aged Ardbeg is a rare occurrence, and cause for celebration. We hope that, by slightly tweaking the batch recipe year-on-year, Ardbeggians can have some fun exploring the finer details of this ever-changing dram. As far as taste goes, this 19 Year Old whisky plunges the palate into notes of smoky pineapple and aromatic wood smoke, with a sweet mouthfeel of smoked chilli chocolate and paprika. The intense notes then peter out through a long, smoky finish.”

Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19yo
Annual Small Batch Release
Bourbon & Oloroso casks
46.2% ABV
£169 RRP

Nose: More medicinal than other Ardbegs, with germoline, Tiger Balm and elastoplast. Very clean though; kiwi, pineapple, grilled lemon and lime pith. But dirty at the same time; coal bunker, tarry ropes, sooty and earthy herbs. Some seafood permeates, with BBQ’d langoustines, crab shells, rockpools, freshly shucked oysters, and some olive oil. Layered, to say the least.

Palate: Dry, earthy, no-holds-barred peat, then really very coastal, with brine, crab sticks, mussels in clean white wine, lemon on oysters and Arbroath Smokies. The mouthfeel, though, is fat and waxy, with medicinal oils, embrocations, and a mentholic note. There’s faint hessian, cigar embers and rolling bonfire smoke too.

Finish: Charred twigs and oak, a peat hearth, slightly medicinal and some drying peat.

Overall: Big, coastal, medicinal, oily, old school Ardbeg. It reminds me of some of the late 1970s Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask and Gordon & MacPhail stuff bottled in the ’90s; utterly joyous, with layer upon layer of flavour, unveiling itself over several minutes. Fantastic, multi-faceted liquid – at the same time clean and dirty, earthy and coastal, smoky and citrusy. £169 is a lot of hard-earned cash to part with for a bottle of whisky, but there are very few other bottles I’d spend this kind of money on. Superbly crafted liquid, I only hope future editions stand up to the very high standard set by this first batch.

 

 

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