ARDBEG 12 YO 1975 Connoisseurs Choice

Islay Single Malt – 40%, 75cl

This version was distilled in 1975 and released on the market in the late 1980s by Gordon & MacPhail during a period in which the distillery had ceased all production (1981-1989). At the time, Ard- beg’s existence as a single malt relied more on the bottlings from independent bottlers than the rare official bottlings released by its owners, Hiram Walker & Sons. Three bottlers enabled Ardbeg to emerge on the market between the early 1980s and late 1990s, Gordon & MacPhail, Cadenhead and Signatory Vintage. These three key players had access to casks covering 20 years of production (1959-1979), including some of the most sought-after bottlings of today.

Colour: beautiful orange

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expresses its island identity with lots of power and candour. Although various citrus fruits, including lemon and pink grapefruit, interrupt, there is no way of avoiding the burnt oak and cold ashes. And might there be a slight acridity to the expression? In any case, we are introduced here to a true Don Juan in a lab coat. Its scents fill the air with notes of camphor, eucalyptus, mint and liquorice (stick). It then swaps its lab coat for a yellow oilskin, defying the elements, on a very windy day with only sea spray, wet sand and foamy waves for company. Suddenly seized by hunger, it puts on its chef hat and introduces a delicious pear tart with an almond cream filling slowly browning in the oven.

oily and sweet. Perhaps too sweet. You have to excuse the 40% ABV which, for just a second, allows a glimpse of lemon. This is then followed by a long monologue centred entirely on peat. It delivers an infinity quantity of phenols charged with marine, vegetal (heather) and fossilized crustacean notes. The smoke is tangible. Without any transition, we then move from the burnt wood register into barbecue and smoky bacon. Sensitive palates beware – there is no question of minerality here, we are decidedly dealing with hydrocarbon notes. And what to say about the notes of still warm oily ash that coat the sides of the peat kiln? Stupefyingly authentic! A concentrated Islay at the bottom of the glass.

in the heart of the kiln, peat in the first hours of drying. We are literally subsumed by smoke, our feet in the barley on a perforated tray underneath a pagoda roof. The marine character (shellfish) becomes increasingly precise. Much later, ashy aromas continue to coat the palate. Crazy!

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