Back in 2021, Ardbeg announced that it was launching its oldest ever bottling to its core range: Ardbeg 25 Year Old. It sold out immediately. Luckily, there’s a new batch for 2022.
This week we have a slightly odd new arrival, as Ardbeg 25 Year Old is not a new whisky. It was first released in January 2021.
But this Ardbeg, it’s the oldest expression yet to join its permanent range of whiskies. It’s very limited in stock. So it pretty much sold out straight away. People really love their Ardbeg.
Because of this, the distillery is doing batches, and this is first set to arrive after the original. The 2022 release is still just as rare and shiny as a Charizard from 1997, and possibly as fiery. The spirit was distilled during the 1990s, at a time when the brand was only producing a trickle of new make spirit every year, and was then popped into ex-bourbon casks. 25 years on, that’s how Ardbeg has chosen to present its prize expression, and I couldn’t be happier.
I love an ex-bourbon cask, because there’s nowhere to hide. A finish or secondary maturation, or even full-term ageing in an ex-wine barrel, for example, can mask a multitude of sins. With ex-bourbon, everything your spirit is gets put on full display, and we’ve had few opportunities to taste what happens to Ardbeg after this length of time. Such a pure, unadulterated display of Ardbeg’s nature is the appeal for me above its status.
Dr. Bill Lumsden, director of whisky creation, was quick to assure us that a quarter of a century of ageing doesn’t tame it one bit. “After a quarter of a century in the cask, you’d be forgiven for imagining that Ardbeg 25 Years Old would have lost some of the hallmark Ardbeg smoky punch. I can assure you it hasn’t,” he commented at the time of the initial launch.
He added: “There’s also a remarkable complexity and elegance to this whisky that I find utterly captivating. It’s unmistakably Ardbeg, but unlike any Ardbeg you’ve tasted before.” The official tasting note goes into further detail, telling us to expect aromas and flavours of smoked cream, earthy bonfires, peppermint, sherbet lemon sweetness, creamy toffee and Ardbeg’s classic fennel and pine resin note.
So that’s what you can expect from this fresh batch. Cards on the table, you’ll have to move really quickly here because of pretty much everything I’ve said in this blog, and there’s a good chance you won’t be lucky enough to get your hands on a bottle this time. Such is the nature of whisky this rare and in-demand. So if you are one of the fortunate few, do make sure you share the love. Pour a dram out for the homies, right into a Glencairn glass. Remember, it’s not a whisky until it’s shared.
Ardbeg 25 Year Old is available from Master of Malt while stocks last. Click here to buy.