Whisky Review #46: Ardbeg Auriverdes

This week’s review focuses on a distillery that readers will be quite familiar with: Ardbeg!

I love Ardbeg. They produce some phenomenal whiskies and their place on the higher end of the peat spectrum also endears them to smokeheads around the world.

The 10 Years Old expression also tends to win new fans faster when compared to the ever-polarising Laphroaig 10 Years Old (which I love, but it took me almost 3 years before I could say that I did).

The expression in question for the review is the Ardbeg Auriverdes, which was released in 2014 to commemorate Ardbeg Day during Feis Ile. The term Auriverdes (or Gold and Green) is used to describe the sports teams of Brazil, including their celebrated football team.

ardbeg-auriverdes-whisky
Ardbeg Auriverdes.

But in this case, it is also used to describe the golden whisky which is nestled within the safe confines of the green Ardbeg bottle. Smart name for a whisky, right?

Now this particular whisky has polarised opinions around the world and those who have tried it tend to think that it is relatively underwhelming in comparison with the previous great releases that Ardbeg has put forward.

But rather than listen to the words of others, I have decided as always to review this whisky for myself and give as honest a review as possible about it. After all, whisky is a subjective medium and one person’s opinion may not necessarily reflect those of another.

I tried this particular whisky in July last year during one of my frequent (some would say far too frequent) visits to Whisky & Alement in Melbourne. It was retailing for a very reasonable $17 per dram and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to give this one a try.

I would also like to remind readers that I actually purchased a bottle of this for my personal collection in late 2014, but I had done so without actually tasting the liquid within. I therefore thought it was best to get on with it while I could get it on the cheap.

This expression was bottled at a rather peculiar abv of 49.9%, which makes me wonder if it was the natural cask strength abv or if Micky Heads decided to have a laugh and cut this down to a rather memorable strength.

So, let’s get on with the review!

Ardbeg Auriverdes
A dram of the Auri, with the Verdes nowhere in sight!

Ardbeg Auriverdes 2014 Feis Ile Release (49.9% abv)

Colour: Straw

Nose: That typical Ardbeggian sweet peat coupled with a generous heaping of sea salt right from the very start! The alcohol strength is definitely apparent in this dram, but it is not overly intrusive.

With time the other elements emerge and there are hints of barley sugar, chewy malt, black pepper and some lemony citrus notes. As the nose evolves, freshly ground espresso and powdered cinnamon make an appearance. (21/25)

Palate: The sweet peat and sea salt from the nose carry through to the palate, with the lemony citrus note and black pepper following. The alcohol strength is once again apparent, but does not detract from the other elements in this dram.

Allspice with a pronounced cinnamon and nutmeg element as well as a nice heaping of barley sugar emerge after some time and the espresso notes from the nose also appear towards the end. (20/25)

Finish: Medium on the finish, with hints of espresso, lemon citrus and some heat that is reminiscent of embers from a beach bonfire. (18/25)

Balance: Relatively well balanced, with the typical Ardbeggian identity very much in play within this dram. It just doesn’t capture the imagination as much as I thought it would. Solid dram, just not spectacular. (18/25)

Rating: 77/100

As I have mentioned before, my review is meant to be just a guide and I definitely encourage readers to make their own opinions regarding any whisky that has previously been featured on this blog.

While this expression is sold out on the likes of The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt, Australian whisky drinkers will be able to acquire a bottle from Dan Murphy’s for AU$189.99, which is slightly cheaper than the $199.99 that I paid back in 2014.

Until the next time, have a great week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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