We're still a month away from the U.S. release date, but I managed to get a sneak peak today at Ardbeg's new "Day" release for 2014: the Auriverdes. Bottled at 49.9%, the whisky was reportedly aged in casks with specially toasted heads, creating a richer, bolder flavor profile than the standard Ardbeg expressions. Let's see for ourselves....
The nose smells like standard Ardbeg with the brine and the peat, but without much added richness. The peat and smoke explode on the palate, much like they do with the other Ardbeg whiskies. My first few sips didn't reveal much added depth (even though I really liked the whisky), but I kept at it and came back later to see if maybe the whisky would change on me. It did.
The second time around I got the blast of Islay goodness, but the vanilla note was much more apparent. It's there, it's just buried under all that spice. It's like a Werther's Original covered in phenolic powder -- it's not really clear what's at the core until you get under all that peat. The finish lasts for quite sometime, too -- almost going menthol after a few minutes. I definitely get the idea of Auri (gold -- as in vanilla) and Verdes (green -- as in peat), so overall I think the whisky accomplishes what it sets out to do -- and it's quite tasty.
I've heard this should clock in around $99.99, which is great because we don't need more $100+ whisky right now. We need some solid $50-$80 options, but at least it's not more than $100. Ultimately, you're not getting more quality than what you're paying for (because when would you ever get that in the single malt realm?), but you are getting a solid Ardbeg release that offers something new from the distillery, if not wildly different and experimental.
Personally, I enjoy the Ardbeg Day and Laphroaig Cairdeas releases more when they keep the whiskies more traditional. The Auriverdes is classic Ardbeg, through and through, so it falls into that category. I'd rather have something good that I'll enjoy drinking than something bizarre that simply tries to be outside the box. I think most people will be quite happy to get one when they arrive.