New Ardbeg Arrives, Tons More

There's a lot of action going on at K&L today in the spirits department. Hopefully most of you are tuning into the new live product feed because I've been watching customers snatch bottles off of that site all morning. Not only do we have the much anticipated arrival of the new Ardbeg "An Oa," we've also got three new single barrels of Dickel, three new Old Potrero expressions (including 11 year old Hotaling), more Nikka gin and vodka, another round of Laphroaig "Cairdeas," plus a few other Japanese things like 12 year old Fukano and a sopping wet sherry cask as well.

But let's get back to the Ardbeg: 

The new world of NAS whisky has removed the specs from the equation, which has forced flavor back into the discussion once again. While I'm all for transparency and age statements, I'm not going to act like whisky buying on the connoisseur level hasn't become a mathematical formula over the last seven years for a number of guys out there. I can't remember the last time someone actually walked into the store and asked me: "Hey, what tastes good?" That's not to defend the current NAS market, mind you, it's just to say that I enjoy watching people forced into making decisions based on flavor, using their palates as their ultimate guide rather than a mathematical equation based on age, price, and rarity. 

For the first time in a long time, we’ve got a permanent new member of the Ardbeg portfolio to tell you about. This isn’t some new committee release or another $100+ bottle of limited edition, space-themed, gimmick-oriented Islay malt. This is the new “An Oa,” a reasonably-priced and absolutely delicious new addition to the trio of 10 year, Uigeadail, and Corryvreckan that not only brings value back into the LVMH peated empire, but also serious flavor and enjoyment. Believe it or not, it’s not always easy to enjoy a bottle of whisky when it costs you three figures, you can only buy a limit of one bottle, and you’re scared to drink each sip for fear you’ll never be able to replace the experience. With the An Oa, Ardbeg is bringing not only functionality back to their core range, they’re bringing fun and flavor, to boot. The An Oa is the best new Ardbeg I’ve tasted in more than five years and it’s the roundest and easiest to drink of the regularly available editions. While it doesn’t pack the power that both the Uigeadail and Corryvreckan offer with their bold proofs, it makes up for it with richness and a rounded sweetness on the finish. You get all the peat, brine, smoke, and salt that you could ever want, but with more texture and perhaps finesse—not something we normally associate with the beastly Islay profile. In any case, this is the first bottle of Ardbeg in some time that I’ve been adamant about buying for my own personal daily enjoyment, not just my collection.

Ardbeg "An Oa" Islay Single Malt Whisky $59.99 - From the distillery: a welcome new addition to the Ultimate range. Ardbeg An Oa is singularly rounded, due in no small part to time spent in our newly established bespoke oak Gathering Vat where whiskies from several cask types - including; sweet Pedro Ximenez; spicy virgin charred oak; and intense ex-bourbon casks, amongst others - familiarise themselves with each other. The result is a dram with smoky power, mellowed by a delectable, smooth sweetness. Hallmark Ardbeg peat, dark chocolate and aniseed are wrapped in smooth, silky butterscotch, black pepper and clove, before rising to an intense crescendo of flavour.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll