Age: No age statement
When it was announced that the 1990 release of Airigh Nam Beist would be the last in the series, a collective sigh went through the Ardbeg fanbase. But of course every end leaves room for new beginnings, and fortunately Ardbeg chose to release Corryvreckan as a replacement. It’s safe to say the new bottling has been a great success, enjoying huge popularity and squarely earning its place in Ardbeg’s Ultimate Range.
Corryvreckan displays all of Ardbeg’s usual peaty, coastal characteristics, but with an amped up alcohol content. Aged primarily in bourbon barrels, there’s also some virgin French oak thrown into the mix (and even Burgundy casks it is rumoured), lending a spicy freshness to Corryvreckan. The result is an intense, eye-watering dram that’s a real feast for the senses.
Colour: Burnished gold
Nose: Exuberant kelp and fresh seashells swirl from the glass. Eventually aromas of young coconut and fresh vanilla shine through. There’s no mistaking which part of Scotland this whisky is from, but the influence of the casks should also not be understated. There’s the faintly spicy perfume of ginger and white peppercorns, with a herbal hint of pine saplings and fresh wood shavings. Although the peat is hiding somewhat, this is still quintessential Ardbeg.
Palate: Full bodied and fierce, offering layer upon layer of intoxicating peat smoke. Yet this fire is not smouldering, but burns hot and bright with allspice and charred oak. Add some grilled pork sausage to the mix, before the bitter taste of tar and burnt liquorice takes over, along with darkly roasted Robusta coffee. This is potent stuff!
Finish: Long and oh so warming, this finish just keeps on giving. The aftertaste is a real treat, leaving us with charred seafood and peaty blackcurrants.
Verdict: For sheer power, there’s no Ardbeg quite like Corryvreckan. While there’s a certain maritime freshness on the nose, the palate is full on peat from Corryvreckan. And oh my… that finish! The tradeoff to using virgin oak for Corryvreckan is that it has a bit less complexity than its sherried sibling Uigeadail, which is an altogether smoother, more refined dram. Corryvreckan is a raw force of nature, much like the whirlpool from which it takes its name. I’ve heard the comparison likened to choosing between driving a sports car or a limousine (no prizes for guessing which is which). Personally, I love the extra dimension that sherry casks can provide a whisky. But come to think of it… who wants to drive a limousine – there’s people who’ll do that for you. Ardbeg is all about excitement, and you won’t find a more thrilling ride than Ardbeg Corryvreckan!