Sometimes in life you experience the unexpected. One can prepare for all possibilities and yet remember none of those, instead memories are formed from the very thing or instance that was not expected. Ardbeg’s Uigeadail (which I shall be referring to as ‘U’ in order to care for my sanity) is a whisky that fits this description precisely.
My discovery of this gem of a whisky is scorched into my memory as part of my recent visit to Islay. Standing like a welcoming father at the end of a long journey home the sprawling Ardbeg distillery appears as the last sign of civilization after you have passed Lagavulin and Laphroaig. Combining exceptional whiskies with a wonderful welcome Ardbeg is a must visit for any whisky fan.
At 54.2 per cent. you might expect a harsher treatment of the nostrils. However the nose is richly earthy, bringing memories of freshly fallen leaves soaked in autumn’s first rains. It doesn’t tingle or tickle the senses but instead just gently informs them that the drinker is about to imbibe a soft yet plainly Ardbegian dram.
The taste is soft smoke that sits gently in the mouth and then slides down your throat, caressing your taste buds as it goes. Despite hailing from a distillery famed for complexity this dram is not overly complex. However, it does have a long and smoky finish that warms you gently with notes of vanilla, toffee and charred cinnamon. It just has a perfectly soft and gentle tone but with just that edge that piques and then holds your interest.
In all it is difficult to accurately describe how complex and yet simple this dram really is. Perhaps the easiest way is to compare it to a fiendish sudoku, the rules are explained in a sentence but it can take an age to successfully complete. Taste it at the distillery if you can, turn up on a stormy day, preferably soaking wet, order a U and a chowder from the exceptional cafe and settle in for the very best of Ardbeg’s offerings.