Whisky Focus - Ardbeg An Oa Named Best Islay Malt At IWC 2019

Ardbeg An Oa Named Best Islay Malt At IWC 2019

7th August 2019
Ardbeg's latest permanent addition wins three classes as Ardbeg scoops ‘Distillery of the Year’ at the International Whisky Competition 2019.

Ardbeg An OaThe newest addition to the Ardbeg core range has won ‘Best Islay Single Malt’ and two further classes at the International Whisky Competition 2019. The smoky, sweet and singularly rounded, Ardbeg An Oa earned one of the highest scores at the competition, as the Islay Distillery was crowned ‘Distillery of the Year’.

Back in 2017 Ardbeg An Oa was the first new whisky to be added to the Islay distillery's core range in 10 years. It takes its name from the most untamed spot of Ardbeg’s remote Scottish island home, the whisky’s character summons all the delicious contrasts of the Mull of Oa – a rugged headland where storm meets calm it is a vatting of whiskies from several cask types - including; sweet Pedro Ximenez; spicy Virgin charred oak; and American ex-bourbon casks, amongst others.

Judges at the IWC were full of praise for Ardbeg An Oa, naming it Best Single Malt Scotch (No Age Statement), Best Islay Single Malt and Best Peated Whisky, with one of the highest scores in the competition – 95.3 points out of 100. Head judge Sebastien Gavillet said: “Ardbeg An Oa, with its aromas and flavour profile, is a worthy winner of these three awards. The whisky is exceptional on its own, but its complexity also means that it works well in cocktails, appealing to a wide selection of tastes.”

Ardbeg An Oa’s balanced character includes the richness of spirit matured in Pedro Ximénez casks, the spice of a parcel aged in virgin oak, and all the hallmark intensity of Ardbeg matured in ex-bourbon barrels. Gathered together by an Ardbeggian alchemy in the Distillery’s Gathering Vat, the whiskies unite to create an untamed single malt far more complex and rounded than the sum of its parts.

According to Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks at The Glenmorangie Company, mixology is the perfect way to explore Ardbeg An Oa’s contrasts. He said: "We’re delighted that the IWC’s judges enjoyed Ardbeg An Oa so much. With its balance of powerful intensity and sweet silkiness, the whisky is delicious straight up, with ice or in cocktails, which showcase different sides of its character. For a clean, refreshing serve, I’d suggest an Islay Daiquiri. And fans of the Old Fashioned should try our take on this classic, named the ‘Foster’, using Ardbeg An Oa for a sweetly smoky twist."

You will find the current Ardbeg whisky range, including the outstanding award winning Ardbeg An Oa available from specialist online whisky retailers such as The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Shop and Master of Malt

Ardbeg An Oa Review

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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