Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Last Remnants of Winter: Ardbeg Uigeadail

Photo by Martin Enemoniada
I'm sure that the fact can't have escaped you that the evenings are getting shorter. Whether it was when you woke up on Sunday realising that you'd had an hour of sleep cruelly stolen, or when you left work astounded that it was still light out, there's no denying that the nights are lighter and brighter already.

With the massive shift in weather I find myself shelving some of my favourite drinks, largely whiskies and largely malts. The Islays, the warming peat monsters are the first to be put up until the cold, damp, wind and darkness return again.

One of my best loved Islay whiskies is from Ardbeg - their Uigeadail - it's a fantastic malt and has no better setting than winter with it's name meaning "dark and mysterious place". I have already reviewed their 10yr, but this whisky is a true monster from the deep, being non chill-filtered and bottled at high strength (54.2%) with whiskies from both standard and sherry casks.

This whisky is loved and lauded far and wide amongst whisky lovers and has won countless awards, and it's going to be a long 6-7 months until I can pick it up again.

On the nose Uigeadail unleashes a truck-load of smoke - not filthy, but fine, sweet smoke which then allows caramel, toffee and orange to surface. Slowly honey starts to come through with just a touch of nutty Oloroso style sherry. This whisky's nose is a true wonder, deep and characterful, but also especially balanced in ensuring that the heavier smoke doesn't overwhelm the more delicate elements.

The addition of water allows fruiter characteristics to surface - the smoke subsides, with the more sweet and less peaty elements emerging.

On the palate there is unbridled pepper mixed with more of that sweet smoke. The sweetness is really astonishing and not what you might expect straight away on an Islay malt. The abv on this bottling is quite high and so it benefits cutting with just a touch of water as it is a little hot otherwise (adding water might make the whisky go a little cloudy but this is nothing to worry about and can happen with non chill-filtered whiskies).

With water, the primary elements are the same but just accentuated, refined and rounded. This whisky has a huge mouthfeel - it completely coats the mouth and is wonderfully oily. Every aspect of this whisky is delightfully complex, layered and downright tasty.

I sincerely recommend that if you have the slightest love for peated whiskies that you pick the Ardbeg Uigeadail up. It may not be cheap as others (it's available at The Whisky Exchange for £53.45 but currently comes with a gorgeous free Ardbeg tumbler!) but it is a real experience, and is perfect for snuggling up for the last of the cold nights we have left - or for sitting around a campfire, as we are all bound to be doing before too long...

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