The thing about No Age Statement (“NAS”) whisky is…

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While perusing the aisles of my local Aldi supermarket, a bottle of Highland Earl Blended Scotch whisky caught my eye. On closer inspection, the label on this bottle had an age statement – “aged 3 years” the label read. I felt a mixture of emotions. First, I was pleased. I was pleased that Aldi was being transparent and freely admitting that its Highland Earl whisky is a 3 year old whisky. Rather than simply not state an age on the bottle, and thus make the whisky a No Age Statement (“NAS”) whisky, Aldi chose to let consumers know the age of the whisky. Second, I was surprised. I was surprised that Aldi, of all companies, was bucking the trend – which is increasingly present in the whisky industry – of releasing NAS whisky and which disclose almost nothing of value to consumers – not the age, nor the proportion of whisky matured in certain cask types, nothing. Just a catchy, usually Gaelic, name. 

Continue reading “The thing about No Age Statement (“NAS”) whisky is…”

Ardbeg Perpetuum

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Rating: ★★★★

Recommendation: Consider it

Type: Single malt Scotch whisky

Origin: Islay, Scotland

ABV: 47.4%

Reaction:  😀

Ardbeg Perpetuum is a single malt that was released to celebrate Ardbeg’s 200th anniversary. It is comprised of whiskies of different ages, that have been matured in both bourbon and sherry barrels, and then combined to create Ardbeg Perpetuum.

Eyes:

The whisky has a very pale white wine colour, similar to the pale yellow of a Pinot Gris. When swirled in the glass, this whisky forms a thin oily film that clings to the inside of the glass and as the film begins to recede evenly dispersed legs take form around most of the circumference of the glass. The legs stick to the glass long after the whisky is swirled around.

Nose:

Sweet toffee apple, sticky caramel, milk chocolate and luscious waves of vanilla soften the bite of peat and the sting of a ground peppercorn medley, which tease the nostrils with salty cubes of lean prosciutto. Ripe and browning peach, pear and nectarine develop with orange and lemon peel, with chocolate brownies and honey glazed pecans. This dram reminds me of a fresh cake of coal tar soap and a pecan pie… no, wait… make that also smoky myrrh and cured meats. This is an exotic and interesting bouquet.

Taste:

The flavours on the entry are somewhat subdued, though by no means boring. Peat, dark chocolate and mandarin peel are suddenly interrupted with a salty spray, and the flavours merge with spices and lead into sweet picked ginger. The whisky then becomes peppery, as a soft bed of creamy vanilla supports the peat. The saltiness progressively develops, first as salted caramel and then into cured meats – first lean and then quite fatty, with a luscious creamy film starting to form on the base of the palate. All the while there is a wooded smokiness, which remains a constant theme.

Finish:

The spices linger, with bit of butter and dark chocolate coated ginger bread. The palate seems to sweeten into the finish, first with pear and then with caramels. There is a fatty film that remains on the palate, with peppercorns and salty pancetta.

Bottom line:

Consider it, if you are a fan of Islay whisky and you enjoy a drinkable peaty malt. To say that this whisky is moreish or drinkable is an understatement, as evidenced by the fact that as soon as my whisky glass is filled with this malt it is not long before the glass needs refilling. At Ardbeg Day, similarly, five drams of this malt vanished amidst talk and laughter without much thought – now that is the best test of a great whisky. The only drawback to this malt – apart from its price – is that, despite being very enjoyable, it seems to underwhelm at first. That aside, each sip of this malt makes me want to go back for more – probably why this whisky has become my Friday night malt.

It is perfect on a cold night paired with comfy pyjamas and a good movie.

“Past, Present and Future”: Artbeg Exhibition celebrates 200 years of Ardbeg’s “untamed” single malt [exclusive images]

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To celebrate 200 years of Ardbeg whisky, the distillery will exhibit images which are intended to capture the “untamed” spirit of Ardbeg. This exhibition is creatively called ARTBEG.  

The Artbeg Exhibition, which will be revealed today, marks Ardbeg Day (to be celebrated on 30 May 2015). The exhibition is comprised of 20 layered digital collages which can be viewed on the external wall of the Ardbeg distillery’s West Maltings building and on www.ardbeg.com. The exhibition will be removed at the end of this year.   

The collages are created by photographer Peter Heaton, who is proclaimed to be an “ardent” Ardbeg single malt fan. After visiting the distillery in 2014, Mr Heaton created the collages by layering his photographs of Ardbeg and Islay with material from the Ardbeg archives. This includes correspondence to and from Ardbeg, bills and other records.

Mr Heaton, speaking of the exhibition, said:

“I have always had a fascination with Islay and its single malts, particularly Ardbeg. The exhibition interprets the Distillery over time and I wanted to create layered, complex imagery which would encourage people to give the work some time and think about the theme of past, present and future.”

Ardbeg’s Distillery Manager, Mickey Heads, also had a few words to say about the exhibition, and said:

“This exhibition provides an intriguing twist on the story of Ardbeg – and contains more than a few surprises. The complexity of these remarkable images makes you stop and think about the whisky’s heritage and its future”.

Malt Mileage is very fortunate to have – with thanks to EVH – received two exclusive images from the Artbeg exhibition to share with readers. 

 The committee meets (1)

The first image, “the committee meets”, is a collection of images that contain the 9th Century Kildalton Cross, which stands near the Ardbeg distillery, a vintage map of Islay and a document which makes reference to the “Sound of Islay”; the narrow straight between the isles of Islay and Jura off the west coast of Scotland.

The picture itself is dark, with what seems to be a storm brewing in the distance. The ashy and sooty look of the collage captures the mood of Ardbeg’s signature smoky peat, while the sun softly shining though the darkness seems to reflect Ardbeg’s sweetness – what some call the “peaty paradox”.

Ardbeg Distillery from the pier

The second image, “Ardbeg distillery from the pier”, captures a shot of the Ardbeg distillery rising out of old archived handwritten letters which were sent to the distillery.

The waves bashing against the rocks signals a turbulence shared in the first image, though it predominately seems calm and picturesque. Having been raised by the coast most of my life, the smell of seaweed and the sea comes to my nose just looking at this image; triggered by the yellowish roughage. This seems to capture the maritime nature of island whisky, such as that from Islay.

Art tends to be a subjective experience, and the above notes reflect what my eyes perceive. What do you perceive?

Ardbeg fans are encouraged to sign up to the Ardbeg committee at: http://www.ardbeg.com/ardbeg/members/public/index/register.