Review: Ardbeg Corryvreckan Single Malt Whisky

At the top of Ardbeg’s core range sits the high proof Corryvreckan, named after the large whirlpool north of Islay. There’s not a lot of info available on this expression, but it is rumored that Corryvreckan is a blend of first fill and refill ex-bourbon and French oak casks. The whisky is a big one, bottled at a hearty 57.1% ABV.

On the nose, hints of sweet smoke hit first, followed closely by freshly ground black pepper, baking spice, and some tropical fruit (grilled pineapple). Taste-wise, Corryvreckan is very rich. Honey kicks things off, followed by cocoa and smoked meat. A smoked, black peppercorn-rubbed brisket, to be exact! Grilled pineapple adds a little sweetness and crispness. Cloves and a little leather show up on the back-palate. The finish is long, sweet and smoky.

Corryvreckan is damn satisfying! It’s an intense drinking experience. The only comparison I can make is its similarity to Booker’s bourbon in terms of intensity of delivery. Rich, complex, and about as balanced as an Ardbeg can be. Recommended! 9/10

Ardbeg.com

Thanks to Ardbeg for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Review: Ardbeg An Oa Single Malt Whiskey

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

Ardbeg.com

Thanks to Ardbeg for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Review: Barrell Whiskey Infinite Barrel Project (Feb 12, 2018 bottling)

A number of whiskey enthusiasts are creating infinity bottles. When they have a pour or two of a special whiskey left, they add it to a decanter. They quickly create their own blend, one that’s always changing as new whiskies are added.

Barrell Craft Spirits has embarked on a unique journey with its new Infinite Barrel Project, borrowing from the infinity bottle idea. To start, several different types of whiskies were batched together, including Tennessee whiskey, Tennessee rye, Indiana whiskey (finished in Oloroso Sherry butts), Indiana rye, Polish malted rye (finished in Curoçao barrels), single malt scotch, single grain scotch, and Irish whiskey.

As the company bottles a portion of the batch, new whiskies are added and left for a time to marry. The consumer will see an ever-evolving product, which should be fun to compare.

The first bottling (Feb 12, 2018) comes in at 119.3 proof. The nose is a touch closed off at first, but opens with a little airtime. Orange marmalade and pot still whiskey dominate the nose at first, followed by hints of honey, marzipan and fresh fruit. The palate is rich with fruit cake, baking spices (especially ginger), and toffee. Feint hints of candied orange peel and buttery malt appear mid-palate. The back palate sees bit of oak tannin. The long finish features lingering notes of salted caramel and red pepper.

I had a chance to sample this whiskey with Barrell founder Joe Beatrice and Head Distiller Tripp Stimson at the New Orleans Bourbon Festival earlier this year. I thought it was a unique flavor then, and it has stuck with me these past few weeks. After tasting it again, I have come to appreciate it even more. Barrell Whiskey Infinite Barrel Project stands out as a ‘must try’ whiskey, one that commands your attention upon tasting. And one that you’ll want to compare to future bottlings. Recommended! 9/10

BarrellBourbon.com

Thanks to Barrell Craft Spirits for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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