Ardbeg is no stranger to awards. The Islay peaty whisky is a classic bottle that has come to define the smoky whisky side of Scotland’s single malts. So, when the New York International Spirits Competition — an awards group judged by industry traders — dropped their medals this week, it was no surprise to see Ardbeg Uigeadail in the Double Gold category.
Ardbeg is basically synonymous with smoky scotch these days. The distillery is perched right on the craggy beach on the southern shores of Islay island off the southwestern coast of Scotland. The distillery draws its peated malt and water locally. In fact, Ardbeg Uigeadail (pronounced “Oog-A-Dal”) is named after the inky lake where the distillery pulls its water to distill with. The name is Scottish Gaelic, meaning “dark and mysterious.” And that is a good way to describe this wonderfully smoky expression.
Luckily, we were able to taste Ardbeg Uigeadail recently for an Expression Session on UPROXX Life’s IGTV. The dram ended up being our favorite from the five Ardbeg’s we tasted that day. So, let’s dive back into what makes this one so special.
Distillery: Ardbeg Distillery, Ardbeg, Islay, UK
Average Price: $80
The mix of peated malts, yeast, and that inky lake water create a spirit that’s already full of flavors. That hot juice is then aged in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. When the whisky in the barrels are just right, they’re blending into this single malt expression and bottled.
Smoky plums in a Christmas cake mingle with a very distinct sense of dried flowers and a sugary banana. The star of this show is the balance between the sweet fruits and smoky malts as the spices fade in to accentuate, not overpower. The sip slows down when you add a few drops of water and really lets the smoke, spice, and fruit work together. The end is soft with a sense of urgency, driving you towards your next sip.
This is a classic sipping dram that really shines with a single rock, or at least that’s how I polished this bottle off.