This 36 years old Ardbeg 1973 is probably one of the rarest bottlings, with only 78 bottles. Douglas Laing has bottled quite a few Ardbegs from this era, in the Old Malt Cask series (early 2000s) and later in this Old & Rare Platinum series. It is said to be one of their best Ardbegs, with the younger sibling 30yo 1973 (98 bottles) roughly on the same level.
Ardbeg 36 yo 1973 (44,7%, Douglas Laing Old & Rare Platinum 2009, 78 btl.)
Nose: starts on mellow peat that breaks up into soft leather, chalky Manzanilla Pasada, fresh lemons, also candied lemons and wonderful medicinal notes. Rather farmy, in a sweet-and-sour kind of way. Wet hay and wet wool. Seaweed and oysters. Cloves. Paraffin. Metal polish. Underneath there is a sweet layer of quinces and marzipan. Funny how it becomes slightly perfumed at times and then goes back to its more austere side.
Mouth: impressive, because it is sharp and fruity at the same time. Thick citrus notes, perhaps a hint of kiwi, alongside dried herbs, hay again, and intense coastal notes. Earthy notes, a slight resinous touch, smoked fish. Almonds and hazelnuts. Subtle tarry notes. Light rubber, which suits it.
Finish: long, dry but also quite chewy. The Manzanilla returns.
Impressive Ardbeg. There’s a fruity base but it packs lots of dry, coastal, medicinal layers too. Perfect strength as well. Rarely seen in auctions, a very low yield after all.