Ardbeg Uigeadail

92 Excellent

The Ardbeg Uigeadail has quickly become one of my favorite Islay whiskies and well-deserving of the many accolades it has received.  If you like smoky whiskies and sherry influence you absolutely cannot go wrong here.

Introduction

The Uigeadail – pronounced ‘Oog-a-dal’ – expression was launched in 2003 and in 2009 was named World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible.  The distillery, on the box packaging, describes this release as such: “Ardbeg Uigeadail takes its name from the brooding, mysterious loch which provides the peat-laden water for Ardbeg.  This is a special vatting of different styles of Ardbeg, marrying together its traditional deep, smoky notes with the luscious sweet, raisiny tones of the ex-Sherry casks.”  There are many opinions amongst the whisky fabric of the preferred standard Ardbeg release – Uigeadail or Corryvreckan.  For me I have a clear preference – the Uigeadail is delicious – and it appears the 120,000+ members of the Ardbeg Committee agree, as it was voted by the members as their favorite Ardbeg release.

Distillery Description

Ardbeg distillery, as noted last time, was commercially founded in 1815 (although whisky production began as early as 1798).  The distinctive Ardbeg taste comes from the malted barley received from Port Ellen – peated to a level of 50 ppm (parts-per million) – combined with the water from Loch Uigeadail, about three miles from the distillery.  Ardbeg distillery currently has three whiskies in its primary lineup – called the Ultimate Range: the Ten Years Old, Uigeadail, and Corryvreckan.

Ardbeg Uigeadail Vital Stats

  • Mash Bill:  100% malted barley dried over peat
  • Casks:  first and second fill ex-bourbon oak casks and sherry butts
  • Age:  NAS
  • ABV:  54.2% (108.4 proof) non chilled-filtered
  • Producer:  Ardbeg Distillery
  • Price:  $90-100
  • Availability:  widely available

Scoring Notes

Notes where Jeremy and I agree will have no annotation – differences and slight variance are annotated by inclusion of our initials (WJ) or (JR).

Appearance

amber – with thick legs in the glass

Nose

lovely nose – very pleasant, with the sherry influence apparent, smoke, tar, rubber, sweet cherry tobacco, salt (WJ); savory, dry tobacco, dark fruits in the background, raisins, tiny bit of fresh asphalt, smoke and salt, but not so much sea brine (JR)

Palate

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smoke, some ash, peat, tobacco with sweet dark fruits (raisins, figs) lingering under the smoke, cherry Chloraseptic (WJ); savory – a touch of grilled meat, salty, deep smoke (not overpowering), so smooth for 108 proof, a medicinal note, with no asphalt noted on the palate (JR)

Finish

nicely balanced – long finish, if I had a wish it would be for a little more of the dark fruits to punch through at the end, coats the mouth and sticks around (WJ); medium length but not hot, very pleasant, a little more spice at the end, leaves the palate in good shape for more (smoke dissipates), leather is here that I did not pick up during the initial tasting, the asphalt returns in a not unpleasant way (JR)

Synopsis

As you can see from the review and scores, we both very much like this dram.  I could let the aroma fill the room and continually revisit the nose – brilliant effort; one to always keep on the shelf (WJ).  While there is some sweetness here, it’s more suggestive of fruits having been eaten than anything sugary in the mouth.  In the end smoke and savory pushes the sweetness away, and while the raisin + sherry note peaks its head out for a moment, it is quickly (and quite completely) replaced with Chloraseptic notes (JR). A definite winner on all accounts.

ModernThirst.com Score:  92 (combined); 92 (WJ) and 92 (JR)

Wrap-Up

Next up is the Ardbeg Corryvreckan – Jeremy’s favorite of the of the four Ardbeg’s we’ve tasted and rated. Thanks for reading and please provide comments if you have them.  Until next time, I leave you this fine day with the great words of James Joyce in Dubliners – “The light music of whisky falling into glasses made an agreeable interlude.”

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About Author

Wes was born and raised in Darlington, South Carolina and attended college at the United States Air Force Academy. After flying helicopters for the Air Force and teaching at the Air Force Academy, he retired in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado, after twenty years of military service. He now works in public school education, is married with three children, and leads the monthly Proper Pour Whisk(e)y Club. You can follow him on Twitter @WesModernThirst and e-mail him at Wes@ModernThirst.com.

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