Ardbeg Wee Beastie
Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland
Reviewed December 21, 2021
I’ve never been a big fan of Ardbeg. The astringency of the 10, for instance, is too little balanced by fruity notes for my taste. So I was surprised by this much cheaper expression from the same distillery. It has the usual pale straw colour and smoky nose, but the iodine notes are more reminiscent of a Talisker. It’s got great legs in the glass, though, which hints at a powerful dram. The first taste is also classic Ardbeg: scratchy lime, scorched turf, and peat smoke, but soon after a pleasing shock of salt sea air with a bit of bonfire ash floating about in it. Then something extraordinary happens: a lovely spreading cacao flavour that holds and holds. Suddenly I’m back at the bus stop in my teens, sucking on a chocolate lime, waiting for that burst of warm sweetness to soothe the acidic pucker. There’s a bit of toffee, too, and a faint ashy note I don’t love, but overall this is the balance I’ve always wanted from Ardbeg. It may be the entry level option, but for my money it’s one of the best.
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