I’ve become a fan of Ardbeg (although you wouldn’t quite know it from the lack of Ardbeg reviews on this site to date). Ardbeg, in my eyes, is up there with Lagavulin and Laphroaig for Islay distilleries well known for their peaty smoky deliciousness.
This evening, I pulled out my bottle of An Oa, a whisky pulled from Pedro Ximenez casks, virgin charred oak casks, ex-bourbon casks and other unspecified casks.
On the nose, ashy peat, soft oily brine, bready, and damp earth. The sweetness is subtle. There was creaminess on the palate as it coated my mouth in peat and brine and nutmeg. The flavour sticks around and the ash that wasn’t evident on the palate comes back in the finish.
Give it some time and a couple drops of water and the sweetness, more like sugar, makes an appearance. It reminded me of those old Popeye candy cigarettes. The ashiness isn’t as intense as some of the other Ardbegs.
Ardbeg mentions dark chocolate, black pepper, butterscotch, and aniseed notes, as well, but none of those really came through for me.
Overall, I like the balance the An Oa has. It’s definitely a good one to get introduced to Ardbeg.