while writing some notes for an Ardbeg Special releases tasting events I am hosting today I noticed I’ve not published any notes on the Ardbeg Galileo , which has been around for a few years now. This was released in 2012 with a nice shaker and sample bottle for press (now being sold on auctions for 100’s of pounds)… Cult, right?
So why call it Galileo you ask? Story goes that Ardbeg sent some whisky into space (to test how whisky matures in zero gravity), and this bottle is all we got… Or something like that. It’s not really important what was sent into space, and why (PR, I guess), but this special release is vintage 1999, and is quite yummy. This is a 12 year old whisky (which is a nice change from the 10 or NAS we’re used to getting from Ardbeg), and this time the it has been matured both in the conventional ex-Bourbon casks and both in ex-Marsala wine casks (Essentially a sweet wine made in Sicily, Italy), which should make it quite sweet and fruity. Peat and sweet wine tend to go well together (We’ve seen that in many other Islay whiskies, from Ardbeg, and other distilleries) , and this is a good example IMHO. It was sold out and you can now only get it in some shops for a lot of money (TWE stocks it for 250 quid which is insane) , or in auctions where it is cheaper (around 120 quid).
Nose: nice and smooth with sweet sugared and salted nuts, some fruit too: tangerine and a touch of pineapple. Sweet peat with leather tar and strawberry flavored Bamba (Israelis, you duped know what I’m talking about here). Some plums and date paste. Seaweed. Very nice sweet salty interplay here.
Palate: starts peaty and fruity with orchard fruit , peat and pepper as well as sweet marinated pork belly. Pepper, sweet cinnamon rolls! Quite creamy. There are quite some tannins and burnt sugar / caramel and salty sugared peanuts.
Finish: salty sweet bacon. Tar. Caramel and creamy achy smoky notes.
This is a tasty dram! Really liked it, especially for the sweet / salty / bamba like flavours, fruitiness, and balance. The peat and wine really work well, it’s not very peaty, and more balanced, with the nose a tad better than the palate, but still a worthy 12 yo Ardbeg which is different than the mainstream Ardbegs. Easy drinking, while preserving the Islay touch. Worthwhile if you can get a bottle for a decent price.