Sometimes it’s good to revisit well known whiskies such as Ardbeg Ten. It comes in batches so its profile can change slightly over time. Recently I tried a new batch of Ardbeg 10yo and I thought it was peatier and more straightforward than the one I bought a couple of years ago. Less good than before, or so it seemed.
Let’s find out by comparing my (open) 2006 bottle and the new 2010 version head-to-head. The 2006 version is a little darker than the 2011 version, but the difference is hard to notice.
Ardbeg 10yo ‘Ten’ (46%, OB 2011)
Nose: the 2011 batch is more similar to the 2006 batch than I thought it would be. There’s still the same mixture of big medicinal peat, maritime notes and lemon. The new release seems a bit smokier / ashier while the old one is more camphory and maybe a tad more rounded. The walnut aroma is bigger in the 2006 version as well. Overall only subtle differences.
Mouth: quite sweet. Not as smoky as I expected from the nose. There’s salty liquorice and a little ginger. Very dry and earthy, hardly any fruity notes (a hint of apple maybe). Roasted coffee. Very similar to the 2006 version, though it does seem a tad rougher in comparison.
Finish: this is where the new batch seems to fade a little sooner. In the old batch there were more burnt grassy notes and ashes, softened by some vanilla, and now it’s mainly the salty liquorice that stands out.
Ardbeg 10 is still a cornerstone of the Islay profile. It’s a fairly simple whisky with a big emphasis on powerful peat and tar. When tasting the 2011 version on its own, I was a bit underwhelmed, but after a direct comparison I was surprised to see it didn’t change too much over the years. The fact that I appreciate it less, is probably because my prefences have changed, instead of the whisky itself.
Overall a nice result if you know the 2006 version must have contained quite some older casks (from the previous distillery owners) and the new 2011 is completely new production. Around € 35 but if you look a bit further, there are
1 litre bottles to be found for approximately € 40.