November 22, 2019

Tasting Notes: Ardbeg An Oa

Ardbeg An Oa! Do you find the name of this scotch intimidating? If so, how will you feel smelling smoke coming out of your glass when the drink is sitting two feet away from you?


In real estate, we are told the mantra is "location, location, location". For Islay scotch, we believe it is "character, character, character". But what is an Islay scotch? Scotch is whisky from Scotland. Scotland, in turn, is a region sitting on top of a country trying to leave the European Union. But Scotland is also a set of islands, sitting around a region, sitting on top of a country trying to leave the European Union. Is that clear? Probably not. Look, there's an island called the Islay, and it makes very very smoky (a.k.a. "peaty") whiskies. Like Arbeg An Oa.

Were we able to detect anything other than smoke when we brought the glass under our nose? Not really. Perhaps a hint of freshly cut grass. Help! The golf course is on fire! The An Oa version of the Ardbeg is aged in Pedro-Ximenez sherry casks and bourbon barrels. There is subtlety to it, but it is far easier to find in its taste. Arbeg An Oa's taste is predictably strong. At first, it is strikingly sweet and creamy. Immediately after, a deluge of smoke layers leathery flavours and salt. The aftertaste is very long and peppery. Every sip is a rather intense and awesome experience.

Ardbeg An Oa is unapologetic and deliberate in its liberal use of peat. This will not please everybody, but any whisky amateur ought to give Islay scotch a try, and Ardbeg An Oa faithfully represents the Islay tradition of whisky making. Guillaume Garih

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