We’re All a Wee Bit Scottish Today

A long-time friend gave me a limited-release bottle of single malt scotch as a gift several months ago, and I had resisted opening it until this evening. In honor of Robbie Burns Day, I chose to crack open and share with you something of an unusual offering from my favorite distillery:

Ardbeg Blasda

I’ve been a big fan of Ardbeg‘s heavily-peated whiskeys for many years, and always jump at the chance to try something new from their wonderful lineup. Their limited-release Blasda is pretty unique among their offerings with only 8 parts per million phenol (8ppm, compared to 24ppm in their flagship 10-Year-Old), a really noticeable difference in peat character.  This has resulted in the bottle being dismissed as “Ardbeg Lite” by many of the brand’s long-time fans, but I’m of the opinion that it should be judged on its own merits.

This is clearly a young whiskey, looking for all the world like a light white wine when poured into the glass.  The similarities end there, however.  Even with the relatively low concentration of peat in this scotch, I found its aroma still dominated the nose, along with the faint touch of old leather that I love so much in my spirits; however, it did allow a healthy amount of lemony citrus and hints of apple to come through in the end.  Overall, it smelled very fresh and for a little while I thought I could have gone on simply breathing it in all night.

The taste was primarily well-balanced fruit such as apples and pears, with the barest hints of butterscotch and toffee.  The spicy peat that Ardbeg is famous for did come in on the back end, though the finish was pretty short-lived.  The smokey character seemed to become more pronounced as I progressed through the glass.

A great gift that is most happily received, I recommend this for anyone new to single malts who doesn’t want to get overwhelmed by starting with the peatier offerings out here, or for any seasoned drinkers who want something a little different than the usual fare.  Hardcore peat-freaks will likely find this to be too light for their liking, but it’s really their loss.

Some hae meat and canna eat, 
   And some wad eat that want it; 
But we hae meat, and we can eat, 
   Sae let the Lord be thankit.