Ardbeg doles out occasional limited releases for their avid fans, but for nearly a decade the core range consisted of just three whiskies: 10 year old, Uigeadail, and Corryvreckan. The addition of An Oa, matured in a combination of virgin oak, Pedro Ximénez sherry, and bourbon barrels, and married in a French oak ‘gathering vat’ prior to bottling, marks a reason to celebrate. An Oa is a more approachable Ardbeg. It lacks some of the typical oiliness, but flavor and complexity abound with hot peat, black tea, and peppery cloves. Die-hard Ardbeg fans should have no complaints, and new converts have a real treat in store. *Top 20 Whiskies of 2017* (GS, Winter 2017)
For the first time in a long time, we’ve got a permanent new member of the Ardbeg portfolio to tell you about. This isn’t some new committee release or another $100+ bottle of limited edition, space-themed, gimmick-oriented Islay malt. This is the new “An Oa,” a reasonably-priced and absolutely delicious new addition to the trio of 10 year, Uigeadail, and Corryvreckan that not only brings value back into the LVMH peated empire, but also serious flavor and enjoyment. Believe it or not, it’s not always easy to enjoy a bottle of whisky when it costs you three figures, you can only buy a limit of one bottle, and you’re scared to drink each sip for fear you’ll never be able to replace the experience. With the An Oa, Ardbeg is bringing not only functionality back to their core range, they’re bringing fun and flavor, to boot. The distillery's notes: "A welcome new addition to the Ultimate range. Ardbeg An Oa is singularly rounded, due in no small part to time spent in our newly established bespoke oak Gathering Vat where whiskies from several cask types - including; sweet Pedro Ximenez; spicy virgin charred oak; and intense ex-bourbon casks, amongst others - familiarise themselves with each other. The result is a dram with smoky power, mellowed by a delectable, smooth sweetness. Hallmark Ardbeg peat, dark chocolate and aniseed are wrapped in smooth, silky butterscotch, black pepper and clove, before rising to an intense crescendo of flavour."
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By: David Driscoll
K&L Staff Member
The An Oa is the best new Ardbeg I’ve tasted in more than five years and it’s the roundest and easiest to drink of the regularly available editions. While it doesn’t pack the power that both the Uigeadail and Corryvreckan offer with their bold proofs, it makes up for it with richness and a rounded sweetness on the finish. You get all the peat, brine, smoke, and salt that you could ever want, but with more texture and perhaps finesse—not something we normally associate with the beastly Islay profile. In any case, this is the first bottle of Ardbeg in some time that I’ve been adamant about buying for my own personal daily enjoyment, not just my collection.
By: Andrew Whiteley
K&L Staff Member
I'm so thrilled this has arrived! I was fortunate enough to taste a sample 3 weeks ago and I've been hounding David about the release date ever since! Better yet, this isn't a flash in the pan. This is part of the new core lineup at Ardbeg and boy does it live up to my high expectations for Ardbeg flagship products. Beautifully married, this blend sings with sea salt brine, extinguished bonfire, malty goodness, and toasted brush. It's even better on the palate. The sweetness of the PX casks really livens up the mix. Cocoa notes and a bourbon spice profile play beautifully with a candied granola that is blanketed in the smooth smoky profile of Ardbeg you already love. Did I mention this is here to stay? I only have to buy one today, because after I finish it I can buy another next week. And the week after. Glorious.
By: Gary Westby
K&L Staff Member
This incredibly elegant and sophisticated Ardbeg retains the peaty personality of the distillery while showcasing a suaver side of Islay. I enjoyed my little taste of this immensly, and I can't wait to take it home and drink it my favorite way- after dinner. Any fan of Islay malts should have a bottle of this generous, textural Ardbeg!
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