Ardbeg Spectacular

Roll up, roll up… welcome to a spectacle of flavours! Or so this Ardbeg Spectacular introduces itself on the box. I’ve heard plenty of people state that they think Ardbeg has become too gimmicky with their packaging. But personally… I love it! And if this whisky is as good as its marketing, I should be in for a treat!

Neither box or bottle tells you much about the age of this whisky other than it’s been aged for “years” in ex-bourbon and ex-port casks. The latter apparently being a first for Ardbeg! Now we know that Ardbeg never finishes their whiskies, so that must mean this single malt is a blend of Ardbeg Single Malts matured entirely in ex-bourbon and ex-port. Which is interesting, as I most often see port used as a finish.

Ofcourse Ardbeg’s mascot “Shortie” is frequently featured on the box as well, in fact he is the star of the show! Ardbeg also gives you plenty of tasting notes on both the back of the box, in gold lettering between the swirls and right above the ABV it states the flavours I’m going to find in my glass are “flabbergasting”. Whether I agree with that or not… we’ll find out in my tasting notes!

Tasting Notes: Ardbeg Spectacular

ABV: 46% (92 proof)
Age: NAS
Distillery: Ardbeg
Chill-filtered: No
Natural Colour: Yes

Classic Ardbeg Peat is the first thing that jumps from the glass, and for peatheads like me that’s great news! But there’s a twist I did not really see coming. I had expected loads of red fruit from the Port Casks, but instead I’m finding hot fudge, salted caramel, and tarte tatin notes that bounce of the peaty flavours. The latter consists of new leather, fresh cigar boxes, burnt rubber, salted liquorice and hints of iodine.

Pears, pepper, and peat. And then some other flavours that don’t start with a “P”. There’s quite a bit of tannins that bounce of the peaty flavours nicely but does give of a tad dry mouthfeel. Freshly picked cherries, strawberry lemonade, oak shavings, charcoal and soothy burned pieces of meat make for quite the contrasting palate.

The finish starts relatively intense, with heaps of white pepper, wild peaches, liquorice root, and green apples. But those flavours do fade quite fast and what’s left behind is that drying mouthfeel paired with plenty of tannic influences. Near the end all that’s left is oak, like sucking on a popsicle stick because the ice cream was just so good that you didn’t want to let it go (we all did that as a child didn’t we?).

This is a lovely Ardbeg, and what I appreciate about it most is it’s focus on peat! After all I do love a peaty dram. As far as those port casks go, I’m left a bit underwhelmed. The only real influence I got from them is the tannins, not so much the red fruit notes I was expecting. Not everyone likes a port finish though, so for some that might be a good thing. But personally, I would have loved to have some luscious red fruit with my Ardbeg!

When compared to the BizarreBQ (the last Ardbeg special I reviewed) I’d choose that over the Spectacular every day of the week. I wouldn’t necessarily call the whisky itself Spectacular or “Flabbergasting”, but the packaging does preserve said praise. But the fact that I wouldn’t give it such high praise, doesn’t mean it isn’t good. I might have had better Ardbegs, but I’m still very happy to have this bottle on my shelve and I’ll most likely pour myself a dram regularly!

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