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Ardbeg 10 Year Old Islay Whisky Review - Tasting Notes / Tips

Updated on February 11, 2013
My bottle of Ardbeg 10 year old whisky
My bottle of Ardbeg 10 year old whisky

Ardbeg 10 Year Scotch Whisky

I find it hard to select a single whisky to call my ‘favourite’ as they all have different things going for them. That said though if you take the high end whiskies out of the equation, I would say all in all Ardbeg 10 year old is as close to favourite that I have at the moment. In pretty much any situation whether it’s after a meal or if you’ve got a few friends over and are having a few drams, Ardbeg always works for me. I had avoided getting a bottle for quite a while as it is at a slightly higher price than your average whisky, but when coming from holiday I saw a litre bottle for £35 ($50) at the airport. I couldn’t resist and I haven’t looked back since.

Close up of the label
Close up of the label

My Ardbeg 10 Year Old Whisky Review

Here’s my review.

Region: Islay

ABV: 46%

Price range - $40-$60

Color

Very light, a pale straw yellow.

Nose

Extremely clean, peaty and smoky, medicine with a nice hint of sea salt.

Body

Powerful and thick, but lighter than some of the Islay big hitters.

Palate

This is actually quite a young whisky but has a really refined flavour. The first thing you get is peat, not the heavy peat of a Laphroaig, but a sophisticated hit, closer to Talisker than Lagavulin. Then the intensity hits you and the flavour really develops. I find Ardbeg really salty and seaweedy, but with a nice sweetness a hint of vanilla.

Finish

Really long finish, peaty and smoky. Eventually the smoke fades and you have a strangely nice medicine peaty finish.

I really love this whisky, it’s a great value Islay whisky, slightly more expensive than some but it really punches above its weight. This is my go to whisky and can be enjoyed in any situation.

Total score 89

I hope you've enjoyed this review, it's my first on hubpages. As always i'd be keen to hear what your favorites are.

More about Ardbeg

Ardbeg is found to the East of Lagavulin and Laphroaig distilleries on the Islay south coast. It is known for being one of the most peated single malts around. The Uigeadail and Supernova bottlings are right at the top of the palatable peat levels at more than 100 ppm or Phenol parts-per-million. The water for Ardbeg whisky travels a great distance, starting at Loch Uigeadail, the highest loch in the hills of Islay. The water flows through the hard quartzite of the Ardilistry River into Loch Iarnan. This water finally flows through some heavy peat bogs on it's final journey to the distillery. Like nearly all Islay distilleries, its malted barley comes from the maltings at Port Ellen. At one time Ardbeg used its own kiln-fired maltings, unusual as there was no fan in the roof, allowing a heavy, tarry peat smoke. This added greatly to to the peat character in the water used. Ardbeg stopped using the maltings in 1977, so any Ardbeg put into cask before the late 1970s still demonstrates that characteristic tarry smoke flavour and is highly desirable.

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    • Jeff Berndt profile image

      Jeff Berndt 5 years ago from Southeast Michigan

      Thanks for the review. I'm more of a fan of Irish whiskey than Scotch, but now I'm curious about Ardbeg. If I see it in a shop I'll probably buy a bottle just to see what the fuss is about.

      By the way, Ardbeg translates to something like "small king," right?

    • Paul Edmondson profile image

      Paul Edmondson 5 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      I'll have to give it a try. Right now I'm on an Oban kick. How does this compare?

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Oh man....If you can sip that stuff, I salute you. I can't consume any liquor unless it's mixed WAY down.

    • hush4444 profile image

      hush4444 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Great review - I love single malt Scotch, especially the ones that are peaty and smoky. I got my husband a 12 year old Balvenie for Christmas - I hope it's good!

    • dommcg profile image
      Author

      dommcg 5 years ago

      Hi guys, thanks for the comments. Jeff, according to this site http://www.islayinfo.com/islay_place_names.html, ardbeg means little height, but I think I prefer your definition. Paul, oban is a sweeter whisky and doesn't have the smoke and peat of ardbeg, but it's still a great whisky.i might review that in die time as well.cheers.

    • Jeff Berndt profile image

      Jeff Berndt 5 years ago from Southeast Michigan

      Little height! Of course. I dunno why I thought ard = king. Thanks for the correction.

    • Rain Defence profile image

      Rain Defence 4 years ago from UK

      This has reminded me to buy some more Ardbeg. My whisky collection isn't really a collection any more. I've nearly drank it all. It's too hard to resist. In fact I'm going to pour myself one now.

      Slainte!

    • dommcg profile image
      Author

      dommcg 4 years ago

      If you like Ardbeg perhaps get a bottle of Coal Ila, really delicious, smoky and salty like Ardbeg.

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 4 years ago from Nottingham UK

      I love Ard'beg it's got a great subtlety of flavour compared to a more gruff Laphroaig.

      I like to tackle an Islay after a hard day at work when I'm ready for a battle. It's amazing the differences between the different areas.

      Just back from a tour of a few distilleries- I seriously recommend Edradour although had a great experience at Tulibardine too.

      Tc

    • dommcg profile image
      Author

      dommcg 4 years ago

      Thanks Cycling Fitness, I am hoping to get up to Skye to visit Talsiker in the spring. Can't wait. Edradour is Pitlochry isn't it? I'll try to drop in on my way there to check it out. Dalwhinnie is also worth a visit if you get the chance. I'm always amazed at how much difference in flavour from just barley and water.

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 4 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Edradour is just outside of pitlochry (I've just published a hub on my visit if you'd like to learn more)

      I'm on 4 distilleries so far although think Penderyn will be next as a welsh whisky is a unique commodity and a have family living not far from there

    • dommcg profile image
      Author

      dommcg 4 years ago

      Never been quite so keen on the pendryn, but it certainly is a unique spirit. Enjoy the tour.

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