Ardbeg extended their core range of single malts with An Oa, named after the Mull of Oa. This NAS expression sits in front of Ardbeg 10-year-old in said range. Why add another expression at all? Let me answer my question with another – what’s wrong with more Ardbeg?
An Oa is a vatting of different cask types, including PX sherry casks, new charred oak, and first-fill bourbon casks. The whiskies marry for a while in a French oak vat. Looking good so far. Making things better is the fact that An Oa is non chill-filtered and bottled at 46.6% ABV.
The sherry casks add a rich fruitiness to the nose, with both tropical and dried fruit. Make no mistake, however… this is Ardbeg through and through. The BBQ smoke and earthy peat notes are there in a slightly less in-your-face manner than the 10-year-old expression. A bit of oak and vanilla round out the nose. On the palate, rich salted toffee and smoked meat dominate, complemented by the light fruitiness found in the nose… again, courtesy of those sherry casks. There’s some spice and oak on the back palate. The body is rather rich thanks to the higher ABV. The finish isn’t as long as I’d like, but it’s nice nonetheless, leaving lingering behind hints of smoke, black pepper and semi-sweet pineapple juice.
An Oa is a pleasant drink. Calling it “Ardbeg Light” doesn’t do the whisky justice, but the description isn’t entirely untrue. Those looking for a medium peated whisky might find what they’re looking for in An Oa. I appreciate what the different cask types bring here, with, dare I say, more character than the 10-year-old expression. That’s my two cents. 8/10
Thanks to Ardbeg for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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