Ardbeg is one of my favourite distilleries, without a doubt. Great, strong peated whiskies that just leave you begging for more. So I thought it was high time to sit down and taste the Ardbeg Corryvreckan and Ardbeg Uigeadail side by side. (Truth be told, I’ve done this several times, but it is the first time I’ve actually written about it!)
In the one corner, we have a whisky named after a swirling whirlpool (3rd largest in the world) to the north of Islay and in the other corner, a whisky named after the very Loch that Ardbeg sources its water from. Seems a little unfair on the surface doesn’t it? A raging, tempestuous and treacherous maelstrom facing off against the dark, mysterious still waters of a loch. Well let’s investigate a bit further and find out how they measure up against each other.
|57.1% ABV||54.2% ABV|
|Non Chill-filtered||Non Chill-filtered|
|Product Description (sourced from Ardbeg’s website)|
|Corryvreckan takes its name from the famous whirlpool that lies to the north of Islay, where only the bravest souls dare to venture. Swirling aromas and torrents of deep, peaty, peppery taste lurk beneath the surface of this beautifully balanced dram. Like the whirlpool itself, Corryvreckan is not for the faint-hearted!||Ardbeg Uigeadail (pronounced ‘Oog-a-dal’) is a special vatting that marries Ardbeg’s traditional deep, smoky notes with luscious, raisiny tones of old ex-Sherry casks. It’s non chill-filtered at high strength, which retains maximum flavour and gives more body and added depth.|
Enough gumpf I hear you say, what do they taste like? Well, you definitely know you have an Ardbeg in your hands, whichever whisky you happen to reach for. The Corryvreckan is a strong brute – a Cro-Magnon hanging out at the tar pits, club in hand just waiting to wallop you and wallop you it does! Plenty of peppery spice and cloves with a briny nose (a nod to the whirlpool perhaps?). Bacon in the smoker, a tingle on the sides of your tongue and the taste of chewing a Band-Aid. A plethora of tastes and sensations bombard you. This is a dram that demands, and deserves, respect.
Onto the Uggy… The signature peat is there, but you get the sweetness from the ex-sherry casks too and it is integrated beautifully. Raisins coated in dark chocolate, deep smokiness, a hint of coffee and demerara sugar and more. A silky mouth-feel and smoked meat. The Uigeadail walks a tightrope of smoke, spice and honeyed goodness with ease. It’s all there and all works wonderfully together. It’s obvious that this wasn’t a case of “let’s finish off this whisky in sherry casks and see what happens”. The marrying was a deliberate one with a clear goal in mind – to produce one of the most brilliant whiskies I’ve had the pleasure to taste. John Murray selected this as his Whisky Bible Whisky of the Year in 2009, and while this is a more recent bottling, I fully agree. A clear winner for me!
Notes completed, I sit back and relax with the two drams, alternating sips between the Uigeadail and Corryvreckan and you know what? You really can’t go wrong with either of these drams. They truly are special and would do you proud, whichever you pick. But let me twist your arm a little and say why pick one when you can have both?