Ardbeg Galileo

Ardbeg certainly loves their special releases. I have always enjoyed the Corryvreckan (which is actually a regular in the lineup, not a one-off release), and I thought Alligator was intriguing. I’m starting to wonder though if these bottlings might be more marketing stunt than cutting-edge whiskymaking. I mean, a rocket? C’mon. And just look at the silliness on the Galileo webpage. Do they mention the whisky? What’s in it? No. But you can upload a picture of yourself with a spacesuit helmet on! Anyway. Continuing with the theme of their one-distillery space race, Ardbeg has released a ~12 year-old vatting of ex-bourbon Ardbeg and (cool!) Sicillian marsala wine cask-aged whisky at a bold 49% ABV. I am actually a big fan of marsala, so I was hoping those nutty oxidized-wine notes would translate.

Nose: Lot of vanilla. Light brown sugar. Cereal. Very mild peat – this is Ardbeg?

Palate: Sharp, piquant peat. Vanilla & caramel. Hefty burn. Some wooksmoke (fruit wood – like applewood chips smoking). A little lime juice on the tail end.

Finish: Not too bitter. Peat shows through (finally) on finish.

With Water: Becomes very perfumey, like a room full of vanilla beans drying.

Overall: Lots of vanilla. Easy drinking, for an Ardbeg, but not much else to recommend it. I was 100% unable to identify the marsala. This is a particularly sweet, aromatic whisky with a very muted peat profile. If someone handed me a glass, I can honestly say I would enjoy drinking it. Alas, the total mistranslation of the marsala cask (I would have said this was 100% ex-bourbon), and the special-edition hoopla seriously undermined the experience for me. I would say this whisky is not worth the (exceptional) effort required to secure a bottle. (Although K&L still has some in stock for $95, while it lasts.) My low rating shouldn’t be taken as a denouncement of the flavor or quality of this whisky – but as a statement on the value for the money. A self-conscious $50 pricetag would have warranted a Recommended score.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

East of Lagavulin and Laphroaig on the southern coast of Islay, Ardbeg is known for being among the most heavily-peated single malts made. Their Uigeadail and Supernova (>100 ppm) bottlings push the envelope on palatable levels of peat (measured in Phenol parts-per-million, or ppm). Ardbeg’s water travels a long journey, first from Loch Uigeadail, which is the highest loch (~250m) in the quartzite hills of Islay. The water flows over hard quartzite, via the Ardilistry River, into the man-made Loch Iarnan. Finally, the soft water flows over heavy peat bogs to the distillery via the Ardbeg Burn. Like most [all?] of the other Islay distilleries, its malted barley comes, by specification, from the maltings at Port Ellen. Ardbeg used to have its own kiln-fired maltings, which were unusual due to a lack of a fan in the roof. This caused a heavy, tar-like influence of the peat smoke, which added to the inherent peat character in the Islay water. The maltings was closed in 1977, so Ardbegs casked before the late 1970s should still exhibit that old characteristic tar and smoke.
Ardbeg Galileo
49% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $95 - $105
Acquired: (1/4 oz pour) K&L Spirits Tasting

Share This!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>