Age: No age statement
Named after the loch that forms the distillery’s water source, Ardbeg Uigeadail is a vatting that marries younger, traditional Ardbeg spirit with older whiskies from casks that previously held sherry. Launched in 2003 at a time when no age statement bottlings were still a relative rarity, Uigeadail has certainly set a shining example for all NAS whiskies that have followed since. Although so far nothing comes close to the otherworldly Ardbeg Galileo, Uigeadail is definitely my favourite of the core range. And the 120.000+ members of the Ardbeg Committee agree: they have chosen Uigeadail as their most beloved Ardbeg. For me, Uigeadail has long been the go-to dram for finishing off a flight of smoky whiskies (be they Ardbegs or not). Having said that, it’s of course also great on its own, and I consider it to be the ultimate nightcap. However you drink it, Ardbeg Uigeadail is a phenomenal whisky and it’s well worth keeping a bottle in your collection.
Colour: Sparkly copper
Nose: Sweet and smoky, like grilled pork glazed with honey. Complex, aromatic and brimming with energy, there are the usual briny seaweed notes, as if a salty sea breeze were blowing over an Islay peat bog. The aroma of dark fruits mixes with Lapsang souchong and freshly ground coffee. Through it all wafts a fairly subdued smoke, like a peat fire that’s long since died down. There’s a lot going on and this promises to be an intricate yet fiery dram.
Palate: Oily and incredibly rich, with a luscious sweetness throughout. Ardbeg’s maritime character mingles with more sophisticated notes of sherry infused oak and floral cigar smoke. The balance is exquisite, like a fruit basket sprinkled with peat and honey. Then an earthier profile takes over with notes of heather and peat bogs, with just a hint of smoked fish towards the end.
Finish: Long and intense, with pure, clean peat smoke cascading over rocks of dark chocolate. There is a pleasantly salty, peaty aftertaste that lingers on for what seems like eons. Breathtaking stuff!
Verdict: Uigeadail offers a less medicinal, sweeter version of Ardbeg. Bottled at cask strength, Uigeadail still manages to deliver a mighty punch, but combines this with delicious complexity. The combination between Ardbeg and sherry is a sumptuous one, with the peaty Islay flavours being perfectly complemented by the European oak, all the while being impeccably balanced. I’ve long had an internal debate (with many a glass poured) over whether Corryvreckan or Uigeadail is the better dram, but I think Uigeadail may just edge it. It’s an incredibly rewarding whisky that can be counted among the true Islay greats!