Nothing makes me happier than an invite to a tasting, add a tasty dinner to that and, well, I reach a whole new level of excitement.
Having said this, you can imagine how pleased I was to receive an invite to the Ardbeg whiskey tasting at Harbor 60 on Thursday night. Admittedly I am more of a wine and vodka gal (not mixed together, thanks very much) but that’s not to say I don’t enjoy a glass of nice whiskey every once in a while.
The evening brought together an intimate group to sniff, swirl and taste the whiskey that has been named the world’s best for three consecutive years. Hosted by Ardbeg’s Global Brand Ambassador, David Blackmore, we sat back in our plush leather chairs as he walked us through the history of the single malt scotch whiskey and the exploration of its range.
Ardbeg’s distillery has been located on the Scottish island of Islay since the 1800s, it is known as the peatiest and smokiest of the Islay malts, and on menu were the brand’s beginning range: 10 Years Old, Uiegeadail and Corryvreckan.
Since I am no expert on whiskey, and won’t pretend to be, I am going to provide you fine readers with the tasting notes of a recognized expert aka those from David himself. At the end of each you will find a mini note on what I thought about each one, as well as those from Josh the Photographer (the guy responsible for these pics, duh!) and also some tips I learned at the tasting.
Ardbeg 10 Years Old – “the core expression of the Ardbeg range”
Colour: Light Gold
Main Flavour: Peat smoke infused with citrus fruit and soft barley
Nose: Peat infused with lemon and lime, dark chocolate, menthol and pepper, tarry ropes, graphite. Smoked fish and crispy bacon.
+Water: Ocean minerals, briny seaspray, waxed lemon and lime, coal tar soap and pine woodlands.
Taste: Peat and spiced fruit explosion – tangy lemon and lime. pepper and cinnamon-spiced toffee. Brine, bananas and currants, espresso and tarry smoke.
Finish: Long and smoky with tarry espresso, aniseed, pear and barley.
*Gracie’s thoughts: This was lightest in colour and had a light, enjoyable taste to match. It resembled a white wine with a stronger taste, I imagine it would be fantastic on ice in the summertime. Or when you want something with more kick than your average pinot grigio, this is a scotch for the ladies.
*Josh the Photographer’s thoughts: ”Very peaty and smokey like bacon.”
*David’s tips: Even though the 10 is infused with lemon and lime, it works much better when paired with a lime. Also, don’t dismiss the light colour of this drink – the colour means nothing! The dirty secret of the scotch industry is that you can add caramel colouring legally, but Ardbeg doesn’t do this of course!
Ardbeg Uigeadail – “named Wold Whiskey of the year in 2009″
Colour: Deepest Gold
Main Flavour: Rich and weighty with intense smoky, oily and luscious deep fruity notes.
Nose: Warm Christmas cake with walnut oil, by a smoldering smoky coal fire. Leather, treacle toffees and raisins.
+Water: Christmas pudding on fire, tarry smoke, diesel engine oil, flowering currants, walnut bread and mocha espresso.
Taste: Rich, oily and mouth- coating – Christmas cake melts, winter spices explode, a mid-palate of honey glazed smoked food and treacle. Smoke builds up like a fine Montecristo cigar.
Finish: Long and chewy with chrysanthemum tea, lemon zest and vanilla.
*Gracie’s thoughts: After my first sip of Uigeadail, I thought to myself that my mouth tasted as though I had just had a cigarette. Right after, David explained the Uigaedail is like a cigar melted into a drink – very smokey and dark.
*Josh the Photographer’s thoughts: “This is like eating a cigar.”
*David’s Tips: Dip your index finger into the whiskey and place a drop into the palm of your hand. Rub yours hands together for a few seconds so the alcohol burns off, then smell. Once the alcohol is gone all the notes of different flavours are unleashed, making it easier to dissect the drink. (ps. it really works! Fun party trick that will make everyone think you are knowledgeable and cool.)
Ardbeg Corryvreckan – “The epitome of Ardbeg – the untamed spirit of Islay”
Colour: Light Amber
Main Flavour: Mysterious and deep with dark fruits, treacle, coffee and pepper
Nose: Creosote, waxy dark chocolate, blackcurrants and muscovado sugar. Plump cherries and earthy pine needles.
+Water: Cayenne peppered steak, smoky bacon, cloves and blueberries. Treacle, menthol and pepper sauce.
Taste: Deep peppery and chewy – peppery sauce, crispy seaweed, espresso coffee, dark fruits (blackcurrants, blueberries, cherries) and star anise.
Finish: Long and deep with chocolate coated cherries, tarry coffee and pepper sauce.
*Gracie’s Thoughts: Very spicy despite the peppery and spicy notes, David described it as being like “Tabasco on top of bacon.”
*Josh the Photographer’s thoughts: “slightly more refined and subtle”
*Gracie says: Delicious! Enjoyed them all. Looking forward to drinking my new discovery: whiskey white wine aka Ardbeg 10 Years Old on the regular. Mmm mmm good!
*Josh the photographer says: “They were all like a punch in the face, in a good way.”
And then it was time for dinner…
First we started with bacon wrapped scallops paired with a roasted red pepper relish and then we moved on to…
This behemoth sized rib eye steak. This photo doesn’t even come close to portraying how insanely massive it was in real life. Sides included roasted asparagus, truffle fries and a modern-take on creamed corn that was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.
The aftermath looked something like this…
Uh, that’s Josh the Photographer’s plate, not mine! I had about three bites of mine before I nearly fell into a meat-induced coma.
Then dessert came and was quickly demolished by the table, yes, we are savages.
Oh, hi, there’s me! Clearly feeling a bit merry after dinner and enjoying a nice tea. The End!