As I enjoy drinking whisky, I was excited to hear news of Ardbeg Dark Cove and very happy to buy a bottle to split with my friends and drink!
However, I thought I’d put it up against something challenging.
Bottled 20.09.2005, 141 bottles, 31 years old. Thanks - a LOT - to Andy Purslow for this monster!
Nose - Alien, sweet, sweet Islay. Beautifully elegant with green apple, birthday candles and buttercream icing. Refreshers and Branston pickle. Charred wood, varnished, pencil cases and the library in a stately home. This is the oldest Ardbeg I've ever nosed…. old Islay is so intense, weird but perfectly balanced.
Body - Light, dreamily sweet and dusty, with perfect Sauternes and soft fruit. Leather and cut black cherries. Hot dust and spice and blackcurrants as you hold it in the mouth, but the most epic development through that Islay funk after swallowing. Like smoking a cigar in the afterlife.
Finish - Incredibly long, delicate and beautifully poised. Minutes long. Wonderful oils right to the end.
At first I thought this was "just" old Islay but it's so perfectly balanced, complex, with an enormous finish and exceedingly nice to drink that it transcends that. Awesome (literally!).
Bottled 02/2007 for USA. I think this was from Andy too… not sure but thanks anyway!
Nose - More sweet refreshers, I would have called this for a stately Caol Ila. More refreshing than the 74 and less "weird", certainly more coastal, great funk to this one. With time, bandages, but very sweetshop. Rather awesome.
Body - Soft, creamy vanilla and more sweetshop. There's an element of funk here too, and some tannins. Stewed tea and fence panel. Structurally sound.
Finish - Zesty and dusty, tannins and fruit. Delicious.
Ardbeg Dark Cove, Committee release, 55% A+
Nose - Unmistakably younger. Lots of sweet wine cask, fruit, coastal peat and cakey vanilla. Ozone and sherry, buttercream icing, a touch of sherbet dibdabs about it. Sweet, young and fruity. White wine and more sherbet with water, with (and this is a new one for me) pea pods.
Body - Sweet lollypops, nutty sherry and massive retronasal peat. Fresh green apple and gunpowder, popcorn and neat mango squash. Maybe comparing it to a 31 year old was slightly unfair, this is obviously a different beast, a lot younger… while it's not quite so orgasmic as that it is delicious to drink. Older, now you come to mention it, with water. More cereal though.
Finish - Very long, tobacco and mango funk. Oil based varnish, almost greasy. Cashew nuts at the end. And then polos with water - WTAF?
So - not particularly dark, but rather good I think. Very good even. Good drinking, lots of complexity and confidence with its youth, I perhaps have done it a slight disservice tonight but I will try it again to compare it to the lower strength Ardbeg day release (assuming that's what's going to happen again) when this will also have had a bit of air.
I’m yet to try a bad OB Ardbeg.