macbeth livingstone ardmore ardbeg linkwood

Ardbeg / Ardmore / Linkwood (Macbeth Collection)

This is a treat-yourself session. Or treat myself, more like. Last year, Elixir Distillers sent me samples of Livingstone’s Macbeth Collection. I reviewed some, but not all, because I have a liver to protect. Now the time has come to cherrypick a few more from this exquisite collection. Today I’ll review the Ardbeg 19 Years, Ardmore 12 Years and Linkwood 31 Years.

As I’ve detailed in my earlier article, the scope of this project is enormous. It encompasses 42 whiskies and originated with Alexis Burgess. It also involves writer Dave Broom, whisky makers Sukhinder Singh and Oliver Chilton, and renowned artist Sir Quentin Blake.

There have been other great whisky series, Ichiro’s Malt Card Series comes to mind, but the Macbeth Collection has the potential to join those upper echelons. True, it might not ever reach the same cult status. Current whisky prices ensure we’re past the point where anyone but the extremely wealthy can collect entire sets like these. But in terms of sheer quality, the Macbeth Collection has been exemplary so far.

Nine whiskies were released last year. I’ve no word on when the next batch will be announced, but it’s been almost a year now. Who knows, could be pretty soon.

ardmore 12 years macbeth livingstone household

Ardmore 12 Years (52.5%, Macbeth Collection – The Household, 3200 bts.)

Maturation in ex-Laphroaig American and European Oak Barrels

Nose: Interestingly vegetal, sharing some similarities with Ledaig, although not as deeply peated. Slivers of birch, cured lemons and cabbage water, but also a whiff of licorice root, petrol and resin.
Taste: Just a pinch of pepper, but also lots of soot, hints of charcoal and some mustard seeds. Then touch of sauerkraut, vegetal peat and charred lemon peel. There’s this lingering beach-y bonfire taste that’s very satisfying.
Finish: Medium to long with a nice salinity, some ashes, black pepper and a slightly drying mouthfeel.

I usually stay away from ex-Laphroaig (or any ex-peated) cask matured whiskies. Generally, it doesn’t seem to add much and doesn’t always lead to a well-integrated result. That’s not the case here. This is a well-rounded, mature Ardmore that offers good value for money.

linkwood 31 years macbeth livingstone the thanes

Linkwood 31 Years (48.2%, Macbeth Collection – The Thanes, 650 bts.)

Maturation in American oak refill bourbon barrels

Nose: Immediately waxy with a touch of fennel. Full of orchard fruits with apples, quinces and stewed pears leading the way. Also whispers of lemon oil, slivers of petrichor, jammy apricots and wet pebbles too. Almost candy-esque in its sweetness, without ever crossing a line.
Taste: Very juicy with an indulgent waxiness. Hints of chalk accompanied by floral notes and whispers of lighter fruits. Lemon drizzle cake, melons, Asian pear and eucalyptus. Also just a very subtle note of vanilla icing and just the tiniest pinch of white pepper.
Finish: Long with beeswax, a hint of green banana and quinces.

Profoundly elegant, the Linkwood 31 Years from the Macbeth Collection is one for the purists. The refill bourbon barrels knew their job, which was to protect this classy spirit from too many outside influences. Three decades later this is what you end up with.

ardbeg 19 years macbeth livingstone the witches

Ardbeg 19 Years (51.7%, Macbeth Collection – The Witches, 1800 bts.)

Maturation in Pedro Ximénez sherry butts

Nose: Oofah! The sherry is prominent but under control. Sweet and syrupy with notes of asphalt, pine resin and furniture polish, as well as leather, eucalyptus and fragrant orange zest. Also just a touch of cinnamon, cigar boxes and tar. Seriously impressive.
Taste: Hints of beech wood, ashes and just a drop of iodine, alongside tobacco leaves, charred orange peels and cinnamon. There’s also subtle notes of blackcurrants, figs and a whisper of rubber, as well as a touch of nougat and darkly roasted coffee beans.
Finish: Very long with a touch of cough syrup, mead and milk chocolate.

I could write many paragraphs about the Ardbeg 19 Years for the Macbeth Collection by Livingstone. Instead, I think one word neatly sums up my experience: impeccable.

Samples provided by Elixir Distillers

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