Whisky Focus - Ardbeg An Oa Review

Ardbeg An Oa Review

21st August 2017
Review of the smoky, sweet Ardbeg An Oa the first new addition to the Islay distillery's core range in 10 years.

Ardbeg An OaThe Ardbeg fans amongst you will be pleased to hear that the Islay distillery today announced the forthcoming release of a new addition to their core range, Ardbeg An Oa (pronounced "an oh").

Ardbeg An Oa takes its name from Islay’s Mull of Oa which is located at at the Island’s southernmost point and is the creation of Ardbeg’s Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks Dr Bill Lumsden.

To create the new whisky Dr Bill brought together, or I should say gathered together, a vatting of whiskies from several cask types - including; sweet Pedro Ximenez; spicy Virgin charred oak; and American ex-bourbon casks, amongst others. They were vatted together in Ardbeg's new bespoke Gathering Room where lies the new vast Gathering Vat which was specially made from French oak to create the new Ardbeg An Oa expression.

Ardbeg tell me that the different layers of whisky slowly mellow together within; the richness of spirit matured in Pedro Ximénes casks, the spice of whisky aged in virgin oak, and all the hallmark intensity of Ardbeg matured in ex-bourbon barrels. Culminating in an untamed single malt far more complex and rounded than the sum of its parts.

Dr Bill Lumsden commented on his latest creation, saying: "There is a wonderfully Ardbeggian magic to The Gathering Room, where the parcels married together in this whisky merge over time, to reach new levels of complexity. Ardbeg An Oa’s rounded and subtly smoky aromas reflect all the contrasts of the Mull of Oa, with notes of creamy toffee, aniseed, dates and hints of peach and banana. The whisky’s smooth, creamy texture leads to a huge syrupy sweetness on the palate, as milk chocolate, orange and smoky tea leaves mingle with sweet spices, cigar smoke and – unusually – grilled artichokes, before a lingering, seductive and smoky finish. It is years since the world’s smokiest, peatiest Islay malt added to its core range. We hope smoky malt whisky fans everywhere will be drawn to Ardbeg An Oa."

Ardbeg An Oa is non-chill filtered and bottled at ABV 46.6%, it has an RRP £49.00, it will be available in specialist online whisky shops such as Master of Malt from September 2017.

Ardbeg An Oa Review

Review added 29th September 2017.

William Morrison's Tasting Notes:

Nose: A lovely refined sweet peat smoke infused with liquorice tinged vanilla toffee and a very gentle fruity mix of orange, lemon and lime.

A stunning silky smooth delivery with dark molasses sugars coating every corner of the mouth which is kept from overpowering by a touch of dark chocolate, all brushed with some lovely Ardbeg, orange and liquorice infused, peat smoke.

Finish: Deliciously long, delicate smoke laced liquorice and treacle toffee fades leaving a gentle nuttiness and mildly drying oak spice.

Comment: An outstanding and very welcome addition to the Ardbeg core range, even by Ardbeg's standards it is top class. It isn't an Ardbeg peat monster, it is a more refined Ardbeg which lets the casks that created it have their say but there is still enough Ardbeg peat smoke here to put a smile on the face of the most devoted Ardbegian's.

SMW Score 94/100


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