I wanted to do an Ardbeg tasting for my first blog post as it is a brand that opened up my appreciation of Whisky. I recall a few years ago saying I didn’t like smoky whiskies, but now they are some of my favourites. I doubt I am the only person who has taken this journey with Ardbeg and I am sure others will be joining me.
I discovered Uigeadail earlier this year at a tasting and remember being particularly unexcited about the prospect of trying it. Even after the first taste I was unimpressed, but it grew on me and a few of us treated ourselves to an extra shot at the end of the tasting. The next week I went out and brought a bottle of Corryvreckan and loved it. This has since taken a hammering and before I finished it I added a bottle of Uigeadail to my collection. An idea emerged to not only taste these two great bottles against one another, but also to record this experience in my first blog post.
Neither of these are cheap whiskies but they won’t break the bank either, with Uigeadail retailing for £59 and Corryvreckan £65. They are part of the Ardbeg standard range alongside the 10 year old which is often seen in supermarkets. This core line up is often supplemented by special editions which I hope to try in the future. The Islay distillery has been owned by Glenmorangie since the 90’s and has gained a cult following. Anyone interested in the special editions should sign up to their committee.
It’s a cold night out and I pour a glass of Uigeadail. This is a whisky to savour and find a comfortable seat to enjoy it. This is going to be a good night and I’m really looking forward to it. I let the whisky sit for about 10 minutes whilst I admire the deep amber colour. I then take my first sniff of the whisky. For me there is smoke, spice and oranges. On the second sniff I take in notes of sweetness and caramel to add to these. This is a pleasure and I could sit there for hours enjoying the nose on this whisky.
I taste the whisky and the first thing that takes me is the combination of spice and sweetness, further sips yield fruit and smoke. This is a whisky to enjoy and I sip it slowly taking over an hour to finish the glass. I can’t stress enough the pleasure this drink gives me, this is a whisky for winter nights sitting by the fire. It is the perfect whisky to enjoy and the finish is long and warm. I don’t add any water this time, but I have tried with a touch in the past and would recommend experimenting to see which you prefer.
After a glass of water I move onto the Corryvreckan. It is the slightly darker of the two whiskies, but there is not much in it. Again I let the whisky sit for a bit and then I inhale lightly. The first thing that hits me is rich caramel and then cherries. Once I picked up the cherries they were there every time I went in for a smell and then there was both sugar and pepper if I hunted for them.
Again this is a whisky to enjoy on a winters night. The first taste is quite sharp, but soon gives way to pepper. This is a grower on my palate and soon there is coffee there, followed by rich fruit and even perhaps a taste of the sea. This is a very deep whisky that leaves a taste of coffee in my mouth. Again for me it is a long pleasurably whisky and I take my time to enjoy it, disappointed when it at last comes to an end. It is a warming whisky and I can’t help imagining drinking it on a snowy night beside an open fire as being the ultimate experience.
These are both great whiskies and I don’t think anyone would be disappointed with either. I’ve actually flipped a couple of times on which I prefer and I don’t think I could choose between the two. The Uigeadail is the sweeter and the Corryvreckan smokier, with a deeper flavour profile. Perhaps the ultimate recommendation is that with the myriad of whisky on offer I will be keeping both in drinks cabinet and buying new bottles when these are finished. As a final note the names are a mouthful, Uigeadail (pronounced oog-a-dal) comes from the name of the loch that provides the distillery with water and Corryvreckan is named after the whirlpool on the straight between Jura and Scarba. Enjoy!