I just recently became a fan of Ardbeg. I instantly fell in love with their 10-year-old expression, and went ga-ga over Uigeadail. It was the inclusion of sherry cask-matured whiskies in Uigeadail that appealed to my soul. So, when it was announced that Ardbeg’s Dark Cove was built around dark sherry casks, you can bet it had my attention.
Dark Cove is Ardbeg’s limited release of 2016, hitting shelves on Ardbeg Day in May. Bottled at 46.5% abv, Ardbeg Dark Cove is limited to 1100 cases. There was an even more limited Committee Release of Ardbeg Dark Cove that came with a higher 55% abv.
The sherry cask maturation is evident on the smoky nose, with notes of dried citrus fruit, road tar, and salted seaweed. An initial blast of sweet toffee kicks things off, quickly followed by waves of peat, salted navel oranges, and dark chocolate. Wisps of rosemary and mulled wine appear, as does a touch of vanilla and barrel char. This expression of Ardeg is not as smoky as others, but it’s present, and really defines itself towards the back palate and into the finish. The finish is long, bittersweet and smoky.
Compared to Uigeadail, Dark Cove presents more citrus and fruit, and is generally sweeter. It’s a really rewarding whisky if you savor it slowly. Though, Ardbeg fanatics will pick up a bottle regardless of what I type here. To everybody else, this one comes with a high recommendation.