Ardbeg Night 2016 + Dark Cove Release

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Happy Whisky Wednesday y’all! On my second day back in NYC, I got to attend the first ever Ardbeg Night which included the release of their newest expression: Dark Cove.

Ohhhhhhh, spooky! You may be thinking, “Home Bar Gurrrl, were you scared?” Heck no! Though our surroundings were dark, filled with technology, and a bit on the mystical side, I was fortified with delicious peated Whisky!

As usual, we’re going to do this photo essay style. All pics taken with my lil iPhone 5S.

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I arrived at the Astor Center in Manhattan to a decked out room full of ARDBEG! Ardbeg Night was created as part of the Feis Ile, aka the Festival of Islay that happens each year at the end of May. Each of the big distilleries on the island gets to have a day during the festival, with Ardbeg’s happening on the last day. To celebrate here in the states, they created Ardbeg Night as a party for the Ardbeg Committee.

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The evening’s guests were just beginning to arrive and we were being served tasty bites and drams of Whisky.

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I was ushered straight to the bar where a kind and informative lady poured me some Ardbeg 10. Hearty stuff for sure! This is a really killer entry level peated Scotch with all sorts of fabulous notes like…

Ardbeg 10: Caramel, smoked fruit, lemon, lime, chocolate, sea spray/salt, brine, vanilla, coffee, and a bit of that “medicinal iodine” flavor that I love so much in Scotch. The other thing that struck me was this was kind of funky, like if you combined Rhum Agricole and Mezcal but then it was actually Whisky. I was totally into it!

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Then it was time for the tasting which included all three Ardbeg expressions and an Occulus VR video from Ardbeg Distillery and the isle of Islay to accompany each glass. So cool!

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From Left to Right: Ardbeg 10, Uigeadail, and Corryvreckan. Since I’ve already described Ardbeg 10, I’ll give brief tasting notes on the other two.

Uigeadail: big and smokey but more like BBQ bacon smoke, I noticed the flavors were more focused than the 10 Year. Earthy notes of leather, tobacco, coal, firey smoke. Then came notes of grains, caramel, more heat, orange peel, chocolate, toffee, dark fruits. It was matured in ex-Bourbon and Oloroso Sherry casks. 50/50 split on the aging for 8-12 years, then married and bottled at 52.54%.

Corryvreckan: Fresh and clean with lots of herbal notes like briney seaweed, rosemary, fennel, licorice, and freshly cut grasses. Then came the deeper notes of coal, smoked wood, peat, pepper, and vanilla. This Whisky actually has the most ppm of smoke but it takes a back seat to all the glorious herbes. Add water and Corryvreckan smells like you’ve doused a fire. Really unique. Cask strength at 57.1%, matured in new French oak.

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We were all happy with our three drams, but then Ardbeg surprised us and brought out tastings of their newest expression, Dark Cove. You may be looking at the above photo and thinking, “where is the Darkness in this Dark Cove cause that looks like a really light Whisky.” Haha, yep, but you should feel good about the color because Ardbeg doesn’t add any additives or color to their Whiskies.

Dark Cove was aged in something called Black Sherry casks, which is a type of Sherry that is thicker, more viscous, and blacker than Pedro Ximénez and incidentally, isn’t sold any more. Dr. Bill Lumsden and the Ardbeg gents had to find someone who was making Black Sherry casks, then got to work on the balance of the Whisky. At first they tried aging new make spirit exclusively in these casks but it wasn’t quite right. Then Dr. Bill decided to blend the Black Sherry aged Whisky with Ardbeg 10 and something really tasty was born.

Dark Cove: Tricole notes (molasses + toffee), over done brisket, meaty, thick, lots of umami, smoke, iodine, band-aid, squid ink, fish sauce.  With all these heavy notes, somehow the palate was really clean and smooth. Dark Cove is definitely a very umami focused Whisky, but is very pleasant and kept me coming back for more. I happily had 3-4 drams of it throughout the night.

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Our tasting was done, and it was time for the Ardbeg Committee members to try Dark Cove. Parrrrty!

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Ardbeg 10 and bags of Peat.

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Oh! There was a dog motif happening at the party too. Shortie is the Ardbeg mascot and he appeared all over Astor Center.

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Here he is again, complete with a crown. Adorable.

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There was also a VR station for the Committee members so they could enjoy a tour of the distillery whilst sipping Dark Cove.

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Fancy Ardbeg Urbanears y’all.

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Lastly, our host Brendan McCarron (the 2nd in command at Ardbeg) wearing a big black cloak (Dark Cove = Dark Cloak) and thanking everyone for coming to Ardbeg Night. Sláinte!

Thanks to The Baddish Group for inviting me to this fabulous event!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Age and Freshness: The Last Drop Distillers 50 Year Blended Scotch

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Today, we’re going to talk about a very special Whisky. A Whisky so rare and wonderful that it dances on the tongue and buzzes in your mouth. A Whisky so fine and complex that it had a room full of spirits writers scratching their heads whilst they tried to wrap their heads around the explosion of flavors they were tasting. A Whisky so alive, I could hardly believe it was so fully aged. I’m talking about The Last Drop Distillers 50 Year Old “Double Matured” Blended Scotch Whisky.

I was invited to Sel Rrose by the Baddish Group to attend this most excellent of tasting events and I shall tell you all about it, photo essay style.

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The Baddish Group are without a doubt, the classiest firm in NYC and thusly we were treated to some very fine cocktails and some of the best seafood I’ve had in the USA.

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I started the night with a French 27, a truly excellent French 75 variation with Zaya Rum, Mesquite Honey syrup, Lime juice, Champagne, and a Thyme sprig garnish. It was killer! We should all make this cocktail, like right now!

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The raw bar of champions, I swear to the stars y’all, THE BEST SEAFOOD EVER!

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The best seafood means the best oysters and seriously, I keep dreaming about these beauties! If you note the mignonette on the bottom left, it was a thai style sauce with ginger and scallion. HOOO boy, brilliant flavor combination!

And that’s what this is really all about, right? The whole reason we’re here sipping Whisky (or making cocktails) is because of the taste, smell, and feeling it evokes within us. For me, working with spirits is about achieving an unique and excellent combination of flavors that leave me excited, temporarily satiated, yet searching for more.

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Let’s talk about the Last Drop Distillers aged Whisky, shall we?

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Our illustrious host for the evening, the ever cheerful Beanie Espy sharing her wealth of knowledge.

The Last Drop Distillers was founded in 2008 by two industry pioneers, Tom Jago and James Espy. Between them, they have created some of the world’s best known spirit brands: Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Chivas Regal 18 Year Old, The Classic Malts, Malibu, and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Instead of resting on their laurels, Tom and James turned their attention to something different, finding and bottling the finest, rarest, and most exclusive spirits. They are joined by their daughters Rebecca Jago and Beanie Espy, making this the most adorable father-daughter company ever.

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To date, they have released six award-winning expressions such as a Blended Scotch from 1960, a Cognac from 1950, a Single Malt from 1967, and now the 50 Year “Double Matured” Blended Scotch Whisky pictured above.

This particular expression came about when they found a 30 year blend of over 50 different Whiskies intended for the Taiwanese market in 1995. Whenever blends are made there is always some left over, so the remaining Whisky was split up, placed into seven Oloroso Sherry casks, and returned to a traditional maturation warehouse in the lowlands of Scotland. There it rested for 20 years until it was bottled at its peak in 2015.

Yes please.

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Each expression comes in a luxurious yet understated leather case, including a booklet certifying the bottle, and a bonus 50ml mini! Beanie explained that the mini is The Last Drop Distillers calling card because often people want to save the full bottle for a special occasion but they can drink the mini right away. Brilliant.

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 Look at the color, viscosity and slowly moving legs! SUPER SLOW LEGS Y’ALL!

The Last Drop Distillers 50 Year Old “Double Matured” Blended Scotch Whisky notes:

  • Nose: Entrances of cherry, candied orange peel, aged Rum, brown sugar, and a pleasant woodiness followed by really intriguing brininess, minerality, and herbaceous set of tones.
  • Mouth: The minerality is really happening and quite lively on the tongue. The fruit notes are reinforced on the palate and explode with a few drops of water. Orange peel, dark tart cherry, caramel, toffee, baking spices, and there’s that briney salinity floating in the background.
  • Body: This is without a doubt, the liveliest Whisky I’ve ever tasted and it’s 50+ years old! It literally danced on my tongue, bounced around my mouth, and never stopped being exciting. It felt like the Whiskey was alive.
  • Finish: lonnnnnnng and wide, well balanced, aggressive and abundant with fruit notes, spices, and lingering minerality.

Seriously y’all, this is not an armchair Whisky, it’s a get up and dance Whisky. It’s a shout about it from the rooftops, invigorating, thrilling experience.

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With so much excitement in one small pour, it’s not surprising that The Last Drop Distiller’s motto for finding spirits is, “the magic combination of age and freshness.” Indeed. Such a miraculous dram of Whisky.

The Last Drop Distillers 50 Year Old “Double Matured” Blended Scotch Whisky is bottled at cask strength, with no dilution or additives, and is non-chill filtered so we can experience every exciting note this orchestra of a bottle contains. To add this exceptional Whisky to your collection, contact The Last Drop Distllers through their website.

Cheers!

Thanks again to The Baddish Group for having me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Fabulous Nights at the Glenmorangie House on Liquor.com

Glenmorangie House

Y’all, last week I had the ultimate experience of my Whisky lyyyyyfe. I was invited to attend two nights at the Glenmorangie House pop-up in NYC where I tasted the ultra-rate 1970s collection as well as their flagship Whiskies (SIGNET I LUV U). Read all about it on Liquor.com.

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ooooooooh….

Glenmorangie-1970s

aaaaaaaah!

Enticing right? Head over DrinkWire for the full article.