The Ardbeg Smoketrails is a relatively new series that was launched in October. It’s exclusively available at the travel retail shops at airports around the world, but also at the Ardbeg distillery visitor centre.
The series will be released in annual batches. Each edition will be a combination of classic American oak casks and casks that, according to the Islay distillery, will be sourced from anywhere in the world. For this first release, Ardbeg selected Manzanilla sherry casks from Sanlúcar de Barrameda on Spain’s Atlantic coast. Which, together with those American oak casks, could make for an interesting mix, I think.
This Ardbeg is bottled at 46% ABV.
Ardbeg Smoketrails tasting notes:
Nose: sweet smoke and a hint of ashes. A sea breeze and tar in the background. Then vanilla and a hint of nougat. Which is followed by a touch of fresh lemons and green grapes before it goes towards almonds and pine needles.
Taste: some smoke and ash. Then a sweet note from vanilla and forest fruit. Lemons. Pine needles and a hint of hazelnuts. Later also a touch of oak and black peppercorns.
Finish: mid-long and a bit dry. A hint of lemons, aniseed, dark chocolate, and a trace of smoke and ashes.
It feels like the Manzanilla casks ensure that the character of Ardbeg is somewhat tamed. The smoke and ashy notes fade into the background, making way for other tones. A solid dram, very drinkable and well-balanced, and interesting that it is slightly different from what you are used to from Ardbeg.
Thanks for the sample, Ian!