The Ardbeg Uigeadail is on of my top 5 drams period. The excellent combination of peat and sherry is wonderfully implemented in this one giving it multi-dimensional qualities beyond phenols and the peat. Today however, we arrive at tasting a very unique sort of Uigeadail : Young Uigeadail (YU), or OOgling as it is sometimes referred to.
The YU expression was released by Ardbeg as a committee release in 2006. It was made by vatting together 4 casks : 3 Ex-Bourbon Hogsheads which are described as ‘very young’ and one Sherry butt. This combination (like in the ‘regular’ Uigeadail) gives it a lovely sherry feeling without being over sherried, and preserving the intrinsic peat character of the Ex-Bourbons and the ‘Ardbegy’ nature. Only 1392 bottles of this nectar were ever bottled, and today it’s quite rate and expensive. When released you could have bought this one for a meagre 30 quid. Today, when searching for it on the web, i found only one site selling it for a whopping 350 quid. over 1000% price increase in 4 years. Unbelievable. Here is Ardbeg in essence for you. Very very collectible stuff. I am not a collector, but man, this is insane.
Now, let’s give this baby a taste, will we?
Ardbeg Young Uigeadail , 59.9% ABV, Original £30 , now ~£350 !!
Colour: pale gold.
Nose: Smoky, sweet some tobacco and a bit of tar and rubber come in at 2nd whiff. really smoky stuff, i can think of smoked fish and Ham which you buy at delicatessen shops. fresh off the smoker, with sweet burnt sugar hovering above. lovely stuff. maybe a wee fisherman’s village. Sherry influence is evident in spite of the 1-3 ration of bourbon. just the right amount as not to make it too sweet. sweet peat. wow.
Palate: Oily,. sweet notes at first then peaty, salty and briny. Leather, smoked fish again, some tar. It’s like licking the inside of a fishing boat! quite fresh and tingly on the tongue afterwards. palate is not as sweet as the nose. Quite a big shovelful of peat. every taste bud is singing hallelujah.
finish : Finishing on espresso,peat, ashtray ashes, some winey notes reside on the palate. and an awful lot of smoke just ‘hangs in there’ for looooooong time. amazing long finish on this one. just when you think smoke is gone, it’s not. it stays there, and refuses to go.
Bottom line: Very very good stuff. I loved it. (i know Serge from WhiskyFun, didn’t much care for it, but hey, we’ve got separate noses. that’s what’s fun about tasting notes, isn’t it?). Too bad prices are so high and inventory is so low. I guess if was to be released this year, it would have cost more and be sold in a few hours… Ardbeg.
I guess a comparison with the uigedail is now due right? OK, dramming again!
Ardbeg Uigeadail , 54.2 % , £50
Nose: Peat overshadowed by the Oloroso notes. leather and sweet fruits. Less peaty on the nose than the YU but smoky, even if less smoky. Hints of Orange marmalade.
Palate: Mouth coating with spice and sweet Demerara sugar hitting the palate along with smoke, and some Marmalade.
Finish: Intense smoke, ashes off a distant wood fire, less winey notes, the espresso is really toned down in comparison wit the YU. Long, smoke just last forever.
Comparing the two :
Both drams share the “sherry” sweet notes on top of peat, yet the YU is more virile and biting, maybe due to it’s young age, the peat is more evident, and the rubber/PVC notes are stronger. However, i wouldn’t say it is better. The YU smoke is more intense also, but the finish is more bitter. I prefer the YU nose and palate and the Uigeadail finish, which is less on the bitter nose, but delivers the right amount of smoke,peat and traces of a cold cigar, smoked just a few minutes ago.
I would reach for either, depending on my mood. One thing is clear : Peat and sherry is a match made in heaven, if done right. one complements the other, and creating a more interesting and complex dram.
Kudos for Ardbeg, for producing those two amazing drams!!!
Thanks to KW for this wee sample of YU, and allowing me to compare the two.