March 21, 2011
Sku at Sku’s Recent Eats kindly sent me a sample of Ardbeg Corryvreckan to advance my Islay education. When I first nosed this dram, I was bowled over by the rich, vibrant, and sour tropical fruit flavors tumbling out of the glass. These “Juicy Fruit” notes meld perfectly with the mild peat smoke notes to create an elegant and mouthwatering aroma. I was shocked – shocked, I tell you – to discover that this dram is bottled at a whopping 57.1% ABV. While not quite as powerful as some higher cask strength whiskies, this one is incredibly smooth, and has very little mouth burn. I had to check several sources online before believing that it was anywhere north of 46% ABV.
Nose: Medicinal, seaweedy peat, but not the crushing “Burning blanket” notes I’d expect from Ardbeg. A floral background (unexpected), but difficult to pick out, plus a sharp, sour grapefruit or blood orange right in the front of the nose. Intriguing, as there’s definitely more layers to this that I’m not picking out. A few drops of water make no discernible impact on the aroma.
Palate: Sour fruit, pineapple! Surprising burst of fruity upfront, like Juicy Fruit gum. Resolves into delicious well-rounded smoke without too much tar or woodiness. Those sour fruit elements continue right into the finish, resonating with blood orange, lime, maybe some fresh juicy berries. Mild sweetness, and always an overtone of bright, citrusy peat. With a few drops of water, the sweetness is more pronounced, producing a sweetened fruit juice cocktail element. In my opinion, this draws the sweetness of the whisky out of balance with the peat – I prefer it neat.
Finish: Long and smoky, leaving you with a bit of tobacco smoke and toasted spices – clove and cinnamon – and a little bitter citrus peel.
Corryvreckan is named after “the largest whirlpool in Europe”, which is off the north coast of Islay. There is a lot of associated marketing mumbo-jumbo to go along with this, all of which can safely be ignored. This is a very good dram, despite not having a declared age statement, and well worth the money. At $80-$90 a bottle, it’s a little out of my usual price range, but I will definitely be picking up a bottle of this for a special occasion!