Islay Whisky Classics No.49 – 1990 Ardbeg for Japan

While celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary on Islay in 2004 at The Old Ardbeg School we spent a bit of time in the Old Kiln (nothing new there…..) , a new bottling was spotted on the shelf , a 1990 at 14yo for the Japanese Market which was also on sale in the distillery . At Cask Strength (55% abv) , if i remember rightly 1200 went to Japan and 600 to the distillery .

Ardbeg 1990 for Japan

It is very light in colour for it’s 14 years , Pale Gold , it has a lovely sweet peatiness on the nose with a lingering smoke , It makes the hairs on the inside of your nose stand up ! There’s also the mandatory Ardbeg lemon , coffee and chocolate , delicious……  On the palate it’s a veritable peat and smoke fest , still with a sweetness (creamy fudge) and a slight bit of Cocoa and frothy coffee . It has a nice lingering finish which leaves a lovely sweet peatness on the way down and a sweet chewyness in the mouth .

What can you say about this , the same vintage that went into the Airigh Nam Beist a further 2 years down the line , a lovely Ardbeg that really doesn’t show it’s strength it just gives you a thoroughly enjoyable time . Another Beg that scores into the 90’s .


Islay Whisky Classics No.48 – Ardbeg Committee Reserve

Back in 2002 Ardbeg Vatted several casks from the 1970’s , 1980’s and 1990’s and released 3000 bottles to Committee members .The abv is 55.3% .

Ardbeg Committee Reserve

A lovely Burnished Gold in colour , the nose is a mixture of young and old Ardbeg , the iodine of the elder , peatiness of the youth , it is quite sweet , marzipan being prominent , there’s also a strong  presence of cloves alongside christmas spices , lemon and creamy coffee . It actually has one of them noses you could sit and smell all night , wonderful ! On the palate it has the sweet peat of youthfulness and the Iodine of an elder statesman , very well balanced and silky smooth , pretty much a perfect Ardbeg taste , very complex . The finish is long , warming , peaty and quite chewy .

This bottling has pretty much everything an Ardbeg fan could ask for , an incredible nose and a wonderful palate , definitely a mid 90’s score . 

Islay Whisky Classics No.47 – Ardbeg Committee Reserve ‘Young Uigeadail’

A Committee Release from 2006 , this was the fledgling release of the Uigeadail – An Oogling – made up of 3 ex-Bourbon Hogsheads and a 2002 Sherry Butt . Bottled at 59.9% , Limited to 1392 bottles and never to be repeated……

Ardbeg Committee Reserve Young Uigeadail

A Beautiful Bright Bronze in colour  , at first the strength of the alcohol tickles the nasal hairs but then you get quite a strong maltiness coming through , a strong sweetness , a smokiness encapsulates the traditional christmas cake smell and there’s also a strong seashore smell to it . The palate has a strong youthfulness to it , thankfully it is the best side of youth , again it is quite sweet and you have the sherry intermixing with the traditional Ardbeg tastes of Coffee and chocolate . The peat is nicely balanced with all this . The finish is long with a Chocolate sweetness and a spicy toffeeness .

A superb Ardbeg Committee release , i actually prefer this to some of the full Uigeadail releases , it has a wonderful youthful kick to it and good balance .  


Islay Whisky Classics No.46 – Bruichladdich 21

A 21yo Laddie matured exclusively in Oloroso Sherry Casks , heaven or hell ? A lot of people didn’t like this , i did !

Bruichladdich 21

Released at 46% abv , it is a very deep amber going on Mahogany in colour , a lot of people said the dreaded “S” word when trying this one , now i’m usually very receptive to “S” but all i get on this is really heavy sherry , it’s really fruity on the nose , quite closed at first but when it does open up , a very relaxed Christmas Cake , dried fruits , spices and dark chocolate . The palate isn’t over powering , very dry oloroso , very Christmas Cake (dried fruits etc) , just a wee hint of some green fruits and orange . The finish is surprisingly short at first ,  Then it gets longer with time , very warming , Apricot Marmalade and Marzipan , also Orange . 

Very oily in the glass , takes a wee while to open up but when it does it’s a cracker , not a sign of anything sulphury , extremely well balanced , a good , sherried Laddie .

Islay Whisky Classics No.45 – Signatory 1978 27yo Bunnahabhain

Signatory have a good reputation of producing some fine single cask independent bottlings and this is no exception . Bottled in the Signatory Vintage line , the extremely heavy glass bottle in the grey oval tin version , once you’ve drunk it you can always cause someone serious injury buy hitting them with it !

Signatory Bunnahabhain 1978

The way they all go eventually !

Distilled on the 30th day of March 1978 and bottled on the 8th February 2006 , this was matured in Sherry Butt #2542 and produced 509 bottles at 55.6% abv . A light amber in colour , Initially light sherry on the nose , spices , dried fruits , then Edinburgh Rock / Confectioners Sugar follow , there’s also Mint Humbug sweets , which reminds me of the first SMWS Bunna i ever had (10.49 for those interested , a rather interesting 15yo) . The palate has a really big sherry mouthfeel , quite dry , Edinburgh Rock , spices and Peppermint . The finish is Long and dry , sherry and peppermint .

A nice , aged Bunnahabhain , exactly what you’d expect , as they say “does what it says on the tin….. “

Islay Whisky Classics No.44 – 14yo Bunnahabhain Pedro Ximenez finish

Bunnahabhain always seems to bottle something special for the Islay Festival of Malt and Music and this one , bottled for the 2006 Feis Ile , is no exception .

Bunnahabhain 14yo PX Finish

Finished for over 2 years in ex-Pedro Ximenez casks this was bottled on the 26th April 2006 at 52.6% abv and produced 761 bottles . It has a lovely deep amber hue in the glass , the nose is very Cherry Liqueur at first , then dark chocolate , cocoa and creamy fudge . You can definitely tell it’s from a sweet sherry cask . it is exceptionally dry on the palate , chocolate , glace cherries and a touch of confectioners sugar , it has a very long and sweet finish , almost ripe bananas at the end .

A very unusual Bunna , nicely balanced in that the PX isn’t overpowering , at least not as overpowering as some PX finishes i’ve encountered .  

Islay Whisky Classics No.43 – Ardbeg 1976 Cask 2390

Nearly 2 years on from the Committee release of 2392 and 2394 Ardbeg released sister cask 2390 for the 2002 Feis Ile . Priced at a bargain £70 494 bottles were available in a striking Black livery .   

(Sorry no Picture but the packaging is the same as the 1974 Cask 3475)

Distilled on the 24th November  1976 and bottled on the 27th April 2002 at the abv of 53.1% , A beautiful light Mahogany colour in the glass , The initial nose is like an old library filled with leather bound books , it still carries quite a whack on the ol’ nasal hairs , the sherry is very dry , it doesn’t hide the fact that it’s from a stunning sherry cask ,  cocoa and faint peat smoke push their way through eventually . It’s upon hitting the palate that all the regular 70’s Ardbeg tastes burst out , Chocolate , Iodine (ardbeg-dine ) , spices , Peat smoke along with a well balanced sherry note . Superb ! The finish is long , chocolatey with glace cherries , a joy to behold .

This has probably one of the best Ardbeg palates , just a shame the nose isn’t on the same level as this would have been a stella dram !