Usually, it can be hard to get your hands on Ardbeg Special Releases, especially if you’re trying to find them for retail prices. With the Ardbeg BizarreBQ and Heavy Vapours releases we’ve recently gotten two special releases that HAVE been widely available in The Netherlands. And after trying Heavy Vapours at a festival, but sadly missing out on trying the BizarreBQ, I decided to pick up a bottle for myself.
This Ardbeg release has been matured in a combination of double charred oak casks, Pedro Ximéneze sherry casks and “unique BBQ casks” whatever the latter might mean. If anyone can educate me on what a BBQ cask is, please let me know!
Aside from the catchy name and the use of those “BBQ casks”, an Ardbeg aged in double charred oak and PX casks sounds good already. The fact that it was widely available and affordable at the same time (I paid 90 euro for my bottle) is promising on paper. But what I’m most eager to find out is how it will compare to the Uigeadail and Corryvreckan. Still two of my favourite Ardbeg releases till date, both core releases AND both more affordable than this offering.
A true side-by-side comparison is something I will save for a Drambuddies session though, so for now let’s just find out what we have in our glass today!
Tasting Notes: Ardbeg BizarreBQ
ABV: 50,9% (101,8 Proof)
Distillery: Ardbeg Distillery
Category: Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Natural Colour: Yes
I’m enjoying a Lazy Sunday Morning. My palate is fresh, the only sound is that of rainfall, and I poured the whisky neat into a Copita glass. While I’m writing this, from my comfy chaise longue, the scents of this Ardbeg BizarreBQ beckon me to the glass.
The sherry influence is immediately clear on the nose, providing a wonderful, sweet layer to this peated dram. It reminds me of maple syrup covered bacon, and molasses filled porridge. Honey and maple syrup evolve into streaky bacon and roast beef, paired with notes of vanilla and malt. Absolutely mouthwatering!
The palate turns out to be a wonderful continuation from the nose. Honey and bacon are the two things I notice first, but immediately there’s a hint of citrus in there as well. Tangerines to be precise. A hint of crushed black peppercorns follows suit paired with a lovely black tea note. Just a hint of tannins shows up as well, providing a nice hint of bitterness to add to the complexity of this dram. The mouthfeel is thick and oily.
The finish is somewhere between medium long and long and once again the flavours stay in the same spectrum of what I previously found. Peppered roast beef, honey and maple syrup, and just a hint of mint leaves softly linger. At the very end the of the finish I’m picking up on some charred oak as well, with just a touch of lemon.
On the one hand I can certainly see the link between this whisky and BBQ. On the other hand, I can almost always see a link with Ardbeg and BBQ. It often gives me notes of bacon, honey, and peppered steak. But I’m glad I found all those notes here as well. I genuinely like this dram a lot. I think it’ll be a close call between the Uigeadail and this dram, the Corryvreckan being a different kind of dram altogether. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one ends up coming out on top for me. Albeit with a small margin. Whether it’s worth the extra money over an Uigeadail? If you’re new to Ardbeg, start with the Uigeadail first. But if you’re already a huge Ardbeg fan and would like to explore the distillery a bit more, than this one surely won’t disappoint!
Personally, I’m a huge fan of sweet & peat and in that regard this dram gets it right. I’m very happy with my purchase and based on my palate I’m giving it a high rating and two thumbs up!