Review: The Best Ardbeg There Is?

Named after Loch Uigeadail, (pronounced Oo-ga-dal), this expression from Ardbeg has often been seen as the best Ardbeg (having been being named “World Whisky of the Year” by Jim Murray in 2009 and taken home four more prestigious award in 2015 alone).

Uigeadail (the Loch is where Ardbeg gets all of its water from) is cask strength (54.2% ABV) and non-chill filtered.

Related: The Manual’s Guide to Drinking and Enjoying Whiskey

Nose: A deep, heavy smokiness pervade in the nose. It envelops the sense in a great way, leading into hint of walnut and a tiny bit of spice. There’s complexity on the nose that takes time to understand, so it’s best to sit with and adjust to over time. Adding some water really helped to open this Scotch up a little to pull out more aromas, like subtle hints of dark roasted coffee, and just a touch of malty baked bread.

Palate: A very full, very deep whiskey. Warming, for sure, but not overwhelming if you are used to drinking Scotches. Uigeadail has a nice body that is sweet but not too sweet, smoky but not in a way that would detract from the other flavors. The smokiness mixed with the spices that come out are reminiscent of winter, of a wood fire in a cabin surrounded by pine trees. A sense of warmth and comfort saturates the senses, bolstered, of course, by the ABV.

Finish: A wonderfully long finish. The tobacco and peat smoke notes linger as if you inhaled on a well-made cigar. These combine with raisins and sweet chocolate flavors for a nice bit of complexity on the end.

Final Thoughts:  If you’re not familiar with the typical Islay Scotch whisky—that is, a Scotch that is heavy on the peat smoke nose and, at times, tastes like you’re eating tobacco ash—then this isn’t going to be for you. That being said, a Scotch like this (or many other Scotches, though certainly not all of them) from Islay isn’t for everyone, or at least for everyone to start with. If you are familiar with the style and enjoy it, then this is a must. The smokiness is there, but does not overwhelm the other flavors, especially as you sit with it. Uigeadail is, simply, as delicious as it is hard to pronounce.

Arbeg Uigeadail retails for around $80.