So, after waiting a whole year for the new Ardbeg release, I have finally tried the stuff, but didn't walk away with a bottle, and am yet to do a proper tasting :-(
Anyway, we were given our samples to try, but I overheard one of the Cru bar staff saying their stock had been held up at customs, and they only had 3 bottles! Two of which they had to open for the tasting, as the LVMH (owners of Ardbeg) rep had not arrived yet with their 3-litre embassy tasting bottle. So, while I pondered how many bottles to buy, the third was snapped up by a lucky collector. I ended up ordering one bottle, which to the credit of the Cru bar team will be delivered ASAP once they get their stock, and at no extra charge. Also scored some lovely Ardbeg shot glasses which was a great bonus, and helped a little with the disappointment, so thanks for that guys!
After this we headed to Cobbler, my favourite whisky bar in the world, in West End, with the hope of getting there at opening (3pm),and having some more time with the new addition to the Ardbeg family. Only to find they were not opening the new bottling until 4.30pm, so with the wife & I fading fast after a long day, we decided to give up and just wait for my bottle to be delivered. Boo!
As for the Auriverdes itself, we were first to try it from the freshly opened bottle at Cru bar, so it had had hardly any oxygen contact, our palettes were tainted by the iced coffees we had sipped while watching the clock, and we were a little rushed (our own fault, nothing to do with our hosts). My initial impression was mixed, it is definitely lower on peat and much lower on smoke than the usual Ardbeg offerings, although I had expected this from some online gossip. There was a nice salty maritime presence there though, some medicinal and light coffee notes, a lot of vanilla and a hint of spice.
I will not form a concrete opinion on this puppy until I've had more time with it, but at this stage I don't believe it's close to the level of the last two years' 'day' bottlings, 'Ardbog' (see previous post), and 'Ardbeg Day' respectively. It is much more gentle and less 'confronting' to the amateur palate, although still identifiable as Ardbeg. It has also increased in price by $10 over last years 'Ardbog' release, and to be honest I think it's starting to push the boundaries of reasonable value for money, with no increase in age, strength or quality. The previous releases have been quite different and special enough to justify the jump in price, but I'm not sure the Auriverdes fits that bill. Let's hope next year's release stays at this price or even comes down a bit. Or maybe the disappointment of walking away empty handed, however temporarily, is clouding my judgement!
More details to come though, I will do a proper tasting and review as soon as I get my hands on some more of the Auriverdes, and some more time to dedicate to it. Stay tuned!