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Monday, 31 March 2014

Liquid Football: Ardbeg AuriVerdes Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review

Rather like Christmas seemingly coming earlier every year (FYI ONLY 267 shopping days to go folks!) the attention on Brazil being this summer's most desirable media/product tie-in nation has well and truly begun in advance of the big event. 

Only last night did we witness the first domino falling in the commercial build up to the World Cup, with Budweiser producing an 'emotional' (their words, Lynn, not mine) black and white TV advert around the passion of football. As the official beer of the World Cup, Bud have produced some limited edition bottles clad in gold, which, will no doubt taste every bit as interesting as their current product.

But brushing aside the cynicism, there are a brace of other drinks companies who have also seized the opportunity to use the summer blockbuster as a launchpad for new products - and both of them look a lot more interesting to us.

Ballantine's have ventured into the flavoured whisky market with their newly released 'Brasil': a low ABV spirit drink (so not a whisky at all, being both flavoured and bottled at 35% abv) which is flavoured with Brazilian lime peel. Expect to see a full review on here soon, in a special feature on flavoured whiskies.

Next up comes a late entry on the team sheet, this time from Islay.

What is arguably the worst kept secret in whisky right now, Ardbeg is releasing AuriVerdes at the end of May, a limited edition bottling in homage to the summer football spectacle, but actually marking their very own celebration of Ardbeg Day, an annual event in the distillery's calendar on the 31st May, coinciding with the hugely popular Feis Ile. Expect football themed high jinks if you're heading to Islay and the Ardbeg Open Day.

A Possible Photo from Ardbeg Day 2014

So what of the liquid itself?

Well aside from the very shiny gold bottle (the regular release will be in traditional 'Verdes' green) the news is that the Ardbeg whisky creation team has been busy experimenting with freshly toasted new cask ends. With the whisky drawn from bourbon casks, the toasted ends give the 'classic' Ardbeg notes a new dimension...

Ardbeg AuriVerdes - Ardbeg Day Bottling - 49.9% -Outturn TBC 

Nose: Hot, with some distinct Ardbeg smokiness (sweet cure bacon), alongside a little dry spiciness, a big waft of vanilla pipe tobacco, expresso coffee, a touch of ginger and an injection of some lighter citrus zest -  fresh lemon and lime. It's powerful, but with a light touch alongside -  think Didier Drogba... 

Palate: More classic Ardbeg fullness, the smoke turning a little more medicinal, with greener notes (fresh orchard fruit) and something a little more savoury - sweet potato perhaps? There is a youthful zestiness at play too but the mouthfeel is superb, with more smoked meat, vanilla and a candied sweetness -  the 10 year old is a good reference point, but it has a little more depth alongside.  

Finish: Surprisingly dry, with a lingering oaky spice, some sooty residue and a last-gasp citrus bite. 

Overall: Another Ardbeg that offers a real star quality. For those who were fans of the likes of Alligator and Ardbog, this fits nicely into the extended family.  Enough of a team player, by not straying too far from the 10 year old, whilst also in possession of a few maverick tendancies.   

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