The marketing apparatus of LVMH has certainly made sure there would be a fuzz about this one... and whisky puritans worldwide screamed 'sacriledge' when they heard about the Marsala casks in the mix. That and the fact that the good marketing folk of LVHM also drove around cities with a rocket on the back of a truck.
This Ardbeg is all vintage 1999 casks, making the whisky 12 years old. Its not - in contradiction to many peoples belief - a 'finish' - its a vatting of ex-bourbon casks and of Marsala-matured Ardbegs - all from the year 1999 and bottled at 49%. Its rumoured to be about a 50.000 bottle release (although no official number has been released) and its already sold out most places around the world... and going fast here in Denmark.
How is it, you say? - is it bad? good? I've heard both... and honestly - my personal thoughts were certainly starting to go 'thumbs down' when I heard about this 'Ardbeg from Marsala wine casks' - but then - it deserves a chance, right?
It was released officially in Denmark about a week ago and a sample was generously handed to me the other day. Thank you!
Ardbeg Galileo 49% Vintage 1999, App. 50.000 bottles, Distillery bottling
Colour is deep gold with an orange hue
Initially a very dimmed Ardbeg nose - its in there, alright - but sugary vinous notes hold it back. After a short while things start to happen and now I can actually pick out the wine from the Ardbeg - which is quite unusual.
Loads of things in here... Cinnamon, sweet oranges, pineapple and apricot served on a fortified wine platter that shows itself when you take deep sniff of this whisky. All this is on bed of sweet peat smoke, citrus and vanilla - the traditional Ardbeg notes... Like I said above it can really be split into 2 parts this one - impressive!
Medium heavy arrival quickly turning into peated tropical fruits, charred wood and burnt brown sponge cake. The another wave of sweet wine and smoke that delivers more apricot/orange notes. Lemon even appears a bit on the finish along with some sooty peat.
Well, well, well... I'm surprised!! in a good way! I quite like this one, although its not an Uigeadail which I rate highly. Its not Ardbeg as we know it and one can still wonder if this experiment was conducted to try and draw in those sweeter wine drinkers...
I think its an experiment well done! and think this is should be considered 'Distillers Edition' Ardbeg like the editions put out by Diageo from various distilleries.
89/100! alot of this due to its incredible nose!