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Ardbeg An Oa

46.6% ABV - Islay, Scotland

Nose: Charred wood, peat smoke, a modest level of ex-Sherry fruits, with some vanilla and musty wood undertones. Very, very light fruit-nut chocolate bars.

Taste: Wonderfully rich. High amounts of wood smoke, light nondescript fruits—a shame that ex-Sherry doesn’t shine through more—and lesser notes of vanilla, roasted nuts, and tar.

Finish: Mesquite wood and peat smoke; medium-long length.

Much less instance peat than I expected—stronger towards the barbecue meat and ash over the rubber that I had become accustomed to with the Ardbegs in my memory. But make no mistake this is an excellent NAS (Non-Age Statement) whisky. It will give the blending team the flexibility to work with a range of aged barrels so they can continue to nail down the flavours found here in Ardbeg An Oa. This here is a wonderful addition to the core range.

That said, I didn’t like this Ardbeg expression when I first tried it! It must have been near the end of a night at a tasting event and I must have been palate fatigued. I totally could have continued to miss out on this whisky. It’s perhaps not my favourite Ardbeg (that’s the Uigeadail) but it might be number two with caveats that (a) I have not tasted it side-by-side the 10-Year and (b) I am excluding any Ardbeg Day or other limited/special releases. Admittedly what made me shell out the cash for it was the BBQ smoker gift pack it came in…
See the "official" tasting notes from Ardbeg.com below for some brilliant prose.

This Ardbeg An Oa was tasted side-by-side 5-Year Wee Beastie and Kelpie.

Details: Several different casks are vatted together, including new charred oak, PX sherry and first fill bourbon.

Tasting Notes (Official): Aroma: ​Rounded and smoky - like burning Applewood - with creamy toffee, aniseed, treacle and dates. A curious suggestion of juicy fruits, such as peach and banana. With a drop of water, reminders of Ardbeg’s classic fragrance – lime, pine resin, fennel, saddle soap and tar. A gentle waxiness, like fragrant candle wax, and hints of smoked herbs. Taste: A smooth, creamy texture leads into a huge syrupy sweetness, flavours of milk chocolate, treacle toffee, aniseed, orange and smoky tea leaves. Gentle, sweet spices (nutmeg & cinnamon), some cigar smoke, and a very unusual flavour of grilled artichokes. Wood is always present in the spirit, gently nutty and reminiscent of a carpenter’s workshop. A long, sweet finish, with floral overtones, mint toffee and some gentle malty biscuit notes.​ Finish: Lingering, seductive, gentle yet intense, with flavours of aniseed, hickory and distant subtle smoke.

Tasted 24 October 2021. (Posted 17 January 2021.)

87/100
Detailed Rating Information...

90+: Fantastic whisky; highly recommended. My favourite whiskies. I might have more than one bottle if the price is right and the supply is limited! The higher values in this range will reflect a stronger balance and consistency between components.
85-89: Great whisky; recommended. Whiskies that really tick the flavour boxes and you'll likely hear about these from me. Good purchase decision—I would consider buying again.
80-84: Very good whisky; recommended, but still consider trying before you buy. Anything is this range or above I would order at a restaurant or make a calculated purchase decision.
75-79: Good whisky; consider trying before you buy. These are whiskies that I enjoyed drinking, but likely would reach for another bottle from the shelf or select something different to order.
65-74: Average; consider trying before you buy, but not recommended. There is nothing that stood out about this whisky and I might be inclined to add ice, mix it with soda, or use it in a cocktail, instead of trying to enjoy its own flavours.
50-64: Bad; not recommended.


Whisky Bottle