Aroma : Rich and weighty with heady and smoky aromatics, this expression of Ardbeg is both intensely flavoured and perfectly integrated. At full strength, the initial aroma is a beguiling mix of warm Christmas cake, walnut oil and parma violets fused with fresh ocean spice, cedar and pine needles falling from the Christmas tree. A smouldering smoky coal fire and the deep scent of well-oiled leather brings warmth to the scene. The sweetness of treacle toffees and chocolate-coated raisins bring indulgence through the smoke.
With water, the deep smokiness increases in intensity, reminiscent of a Christmas pudding on fire. Tarry smoke and diesel engine oil enter the room bringing smells of an age gone by. Rich flowering currants and warm baked banana and walnut bread are served with simmering mocha espresso.
Taste : Full flavoured and rich with a deep mouth-coating texture, the taste is an intriguing balance between sweet, spicy and deep smoky flavours.
The flavour is initially sweet as Christmas cake begins to soak into the tongue. A burst of winter spices sets off a smoky-spicy explosion countered by a sumptuous mid-palate of honey glazed smoked food and chewy treacle. Waves of deep smoky tones and rich aromas build up on the palate like a fine Montecristo cigar.
Finish : Amazingly long and chewy with lingering raisiny, deep mocha tones and rich aromatic smoke into the perfectly integrated finish.