I never managed to source a sample of the very first batch of the Ardbeg Traigh Bhan (pronounced ‘Tri-Van’), which I really would’ve liked to taste. It was the first age statement addition to the Ardbeg core range in two decades. Not just any age statement, I might add. The Ardbeg Traigh Bhan is 19 years old, which is pretty much ancient in Ardbeg terms.
But while I missed out on the first release, I now do get to try the second batch. It varies from the 2019 edition in terms of cask make-up; there’s a higher proportion of first fill bourbon casks, which means less refill and sherry casks.
Ardbeg Tragh Bhan 19 Years Batch 2 (46.2%, OB, 2020)
Nose: Sweet fruits like tinned pineapple and apricots, accompanied by soot, liquorice and smoked kippers. A hint of bandages as well, with some pebbles and a good amount of vegetal peat. Finally a whiff of iodine. Taste: Balanced and mature, with a peat influence to match. Still rather sooty and ashy though. Whiffs of tropical fruit, although maybe not in as much abundance as I’d like. A nice salinity with soft smoke and touches of plastic. Finish: Dry, vanilla and ashy. Finally a tinge of chocolate. Medium in length.
Because mature Ardbeg is rare these days, this is rather a treat. But it is simply very good whisky too. Quite ashy, but with some nice fruity notes to balance everything. They mentioned less sherry casks were used for this batch, and I suspect it were very few indeed. This tastes like a bourbon matured Ardbeg to me.