The release of the Ardbeg An Oa represents the first addition to Ardbeg’s core range since 2009, when the excellent Ardbeg Corryvreckan was released. Now that’s enough to even get someone like me, an Ardbeg skeptic, excited.
Unlike with the annual Ardbeg Day releases, there’s no elaborate back story here. Ardbeg An Oa (pronounced ‘an oh’) is named after Islay’s Oa peninsula, the headland south-west of Port Ellen. It’s a whisky without an age statement, but as we’ve learned from the Ardbeg Uigeadail and the Ardbeg Corryvreckan, that doesn’t have to be a problem.
We do know what wood was used to mature the An Oa in. It is a mixture of ex-Pedro Ximénez casks, virgin oak casks and ex-bourbon barrels. The vatting was blended together in Ardbeg’s new ‘Gathering Vat’, which is nothing more than a marrying tun, but I guess that didn’t sound ‘cool’ enough.
Ardbeg An Oa (46,6%, OB, 2017)
Nose: Quite nice and malty, with the sweet peat being restrained and subtle, instead over overpowering. We’ve got lemon and orange juice, as well as vanilla and butterscotch. Some wood shavings too, accompanied by resin. Taste: A fairly oily mouthfeel, with a hit of spices (cracked black pepper, cloves) and a lingering ashiness. Somewhat briny, but also a whiff of peach and lime. Pretty dry and plenty of oak. Finish: Drying, spicy and briny.
A fine addition to Ardbeg’s core range, although the dryness and big spiciness on the palate might not be everybody’s cup of tea.