Ardbeg

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Islay!


Photo courtesy of http://www.islayguide.com/

Photo courtesy of http://www.islayguide.com/

AK: Friday night means one thing: WHISKY!

G-LO: Indeed it does!

AK: And since I’ve filled my kids with sushi, it’s Daddy Time!

G-LO: Amen, Brother! My kids are filled up with FroYo, Yo! And hopefully fast asleep.

AK: I got one in the living room watching a shoot ’em up movie loudly. One watching some Nickelodeon/Disney offering…loudly. And one on earbuds oblivious to the world.  So, let’s drink!

G-LO: Booyah! Where shall we begin, Skipper? We gonna set sail for your favorite island?

AK: Islay, my boy. Islay. Did I mention I was there?

G-LO: You did! Several times. Bastard. You’re a GLOater.

AK: It was my anniversary of said visit recently. September 8th of last year. Quite the experience. One of the “whoa” moments was seeing the Ardbeg, Lagavulin, and Bowmore distilleries from the ferry.

G-LO: I think I would start crying. Tears of joy, of course!

AK: Going to Ardbeg was really fun and wonderful. I think I cried, but I was tipsy and cold so who knows. We had a really great tour there with Jackie Thompson who manages the visitor center. I think all the guys in our group wanted to marry her right there. It’s ok to have a second wife based in Scotland, right?

G-LO: Oh, hell, yes! That goes way beyond that song about having lady friends in different area codes.

AK: Good to know. I’ll file that away under International Law.

G-LO: I wouldn’t write any of this down if I were you. Just file it away in your mental tickler file.

AK: No one reads this crap. I think we’ve proven that.

G-LO: Good point. Carry on!

AK: So, even though we didn’t have as much time as I would’ve liked, we stopped in Jackie’s lovely visitor center. Did I mention that she bought all nine of us lackeys a wonderful lunch?

G-LO: No. You didn’t mention that.

AK: And after buying a fair amount of swag to wear on the outside and tasting Galileo in the gift shop (my kind of gift shop, by the way) and Jackie coming by and pouring Alligator(!) to boot, I had to look at the whisky area. The stuff you wear on the inside, if you get my drift. I had to bring something home. That’s an International Law too, right after the T-Shirt Buying Law.

G-LO: Who’s your lawyer? I could use one like yours! I’m lucky if I get to have a beer in the hotel lobby when I go on vacation.

AK: Saul Goodman.

G-LO: So, Ardbeg is on the menu for this evening? Is that what you’re getting at, Old Blowhard?

AK: You are very smart. I picked up a bottle of Kildalton.

G-LO: Wasn’t that a Tarantino movie? The one where you see way to much of Uma’s feet.

Uma's Feet

AK: I thought it was a bad Bond film.

G-LO: You mean a bad Bond actor.

AK: Right! But no, it was a one-off that Ardbeg released last year. Distillery release only.

G-LO: You so fancy! Islay: You can’t get there from here and you can’t get this whisky here either!

AK: Me? Fancy? Not so much. The packaging, very much so. Comes in this cool box that I would happily be cremated just to lie in in it for eternity. I’m not even drinking yet and that might be the worse sentence ever.

G-LO: Nah. Have you read my blog posts? I’ve done worse.

AK: You have a blog?! Cool! The Kildalton comes with a little pamphlet with a picture of Prince Charles in it. He signed it! I’m sure he only signed mine.

G-LO: He’s a Royal. Not much better to do these days. Empty nester for the most part.

AK: Good point. Sitting around watching TV and scolding the help. Care to smell the Prince’s whisky?

G-LO: Hell yeah! I was wondering how long it would take for you to say that. Pouring. Glug glug glug…

AK: Be careful!!! It’s….46%. Boooo! Strike One from me. If you’re going to have a special release, crank that baby up!

G-LO: Funny you mention the ABV…

AK: I’m a funny guy.

G-LO: As I was going through my sample inventory, #1 Son walked over to see what I was doing. He started looking at the ABVs. Sees one at around 43%. He says something like, “43%? That’s not so bad.” Should I be worried?  And, yes. You are a funny guy!

AK: Worried?! Give that boy an allowance and/or a pony.

G-LO: Allowance is cheaper.

AK: And less messy

G-LO: Agreed. This Kildalton is a bit darker than the usual Ardbeg 10.

AK: Yep. Pretty quiet smell. A little piney. I like pine trees, pine cones, and lemon merengue pine.

G-LO: In that order? At the same time?

AK: I’m big on chaos so whatever.

G-LO: Not KAOS?

AK: The Claw!

G-LO: How about Doc from The Love Boat?

AK: Bernie Kopell. Comedy genius!

G-LO: Definitely not as intense as the usual Ardbegs. From a smoke perspective I mean.

AK: Nope. There’s something herbal in there that I can’t place. Barely any peat.

G-LO: Charcoal that’s been burning off for a few hours. Mostly just ash with a few smoldering embers. As opposed to a smoldering Amber.

AK: Ashy is good. I get that too.

G-LO: Winter is coming. I’m gonna get a little ashy too. Damn forced hot air kills me! Licorice. Some thyme.

AK: Cool air is good for the soul after this summer. Cool nights and peaty whisky. Can’t wait. I’m going in.

G-LO: How about some caraway seed? Or is that basically licorice? Tasting. Mmmmm….

AK: Some anise, Eunice, but don’t get carried away. See what I did there?

G-LO: I did. Impressive.

AK: Taste is better than smell.

G-LO: This is a somewhat gentle Islay. Not very oily. A bit watery in fact.

AK: Very but a little astringent. No big burst of smoke.

G-LO: Not super hot either. Definitely drying.

AK: 46% ain’t a heat maker.

G-LO: Get’s a bit peppery in the middle.

AK: Oily and drying. Strange mouth feel. Maybe a bit “dirty”.

G-LO: So was Smoldering Amber. Just saying.

AK: Hey now! Some kind of mint in there.

G-LO: Wintergreen Lifesavers with a touch of powdered sugar. Or should I say Wint O Green?

AK: Well, aren’t you Mr. Tasting Note?! You should.

G-LO: I’m just trying to keep up with you is all.

AK: “Please savour responsibly.” Says that right on the bottle. Prince Chuck wrote it himself.

G-LO: What a guy!

AK: The back of the bottle is metric-y.

Ardbeg Kildalton 5

G-LO: 70cl?

AK: Yep. UK Health Dept recommends that “adults do not regularly exceed 3-4 units a day for men, 2-3 units for women.” What the hell is a “unit”?

G-LO: What does any of that mean?

AK: BREAKING NEWS: 25 ml = 12 UK units. You do the math.  And there’s a cute little icon of, I believe, a pregnant woman drinking, I believe alcohol, with a slash through it. Not Slash but that would be something, huh?  I’m sure this will keep the preggie birds away from the juice.

G-LO: If the preggie birds are picking up the bottle, my guess is that they aren’t reading the back of the label.

AK: Exactly. That’s how they GOT pregnant! And there is a recycle icon too. I’m all about recycling. Jokes, trash, pregnant women. I have no idea what that means. But I’m sure I’ll get plenty of angry postcards.

G-LO: We’re losing readers by the keystroke! But are we having a laugh??? Hell yes! FYI, I drained my glass. That went down really easy.

AK: We’re just losing the pregnant drunk readers. And, yes, we are having a laugh. Or at the very least, we’re having a chuckle which shouldn’t be confused with a chortle. That’s a horse of a different color.

G-LO: Well, if the pregnant drunk readers could read, they wouldn’t be in that predicament. Now we have a defamation of character suit headed our way.

AK: Damn. Pregnant Drinkers Union and their lawyers.

G-LO: Kildalton was tasty, but a bit polite.

AK: It needed a few more points on the ABV (we say that a lot). Too polite.

G-LO: I know. Some might say that we have a problem.

AK: The Some have attorneys too.

G-LO: Bastards.

AK: And their law school and fancy ties.

G-LO: Kildalton. Nice beat. Catchy tune. But it needs a bit more tempo before I can booze dance to it.

AK: You said it all, G! Hey G, do you like licking the inside of a smoky whisky barrel? I ask because I care.

G-LO: Is there a chance of splinters?

AK: As in life, there always is. It’s the chance we take.

G-LO: Is it worth it? Put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it?

AK: Easy there, Missy Elliot. You’ll never know until you try. And we have a nice one to try up next.

G-LO: Do tell!

AK: Two words: Black Adder. Which is really one word, but I was going for dramatic effect there.

Blackadder Caol Ila 5

G-LO: Raw Cask? That’s two words for sure! Love the Raw Cask series! Adore those bits of barrel char!

AK: Two more words: Caol Ila which I think aren’t really words at all but who cares. Do you remember 1996 because that’s where we’re going back to with this one?

G-LO: I do! Mrs. G-LO graduated from college and we went to Hawaii! Aloha!

Pearl Harbor, 1996

Pearl Harbor, 1996

AK: And Mad Cow disease was the scourge of Britain. Aloha!

G-LO: That explains a lot. Or does it? So, is it Cowl Ee-lah or Cool Eye-lah?

AK: It’s Mad Coo Disease, and Cool Ee-lah per no one in particular. Also in 1996, Braveheart won the Oscar. Oh, how Scottish!

G-LO: Fine film! FREEDOM! Speaking of Braveheart. Sophie Marceau. All I’m saying.

Sophie Marceau

AK: Two words: Hubba and hubba!

G-LO: She was in a non-Kildalton Bond film too.

AK: World is Not Enough with Remington Steele. He was a good Bond and a heck of a private eye.

G-LO: Loved Remington Steele!

AK: How can you not?!

G-LO: Stephanie Zimbalist and Everybody Loves Raymond’s mother. Steele was almost as good as Magnum PI. The Blackadder has just a bit more octane. 33% more potent!

AK: A wee bit. Six-ty point three per-cent alcohol.

G-LO: Let’s see if this is polite or a brute. Pouring. Did our friend Raj hook you up with this?

AK: Don’t spill! One of 268 bottles. I believe I went the old fashioned route and purchased it at a store with a snarky clerk and a cash register.

G-LO: How very Old School of you, Old Man. Did you pay cash too?

AK: Cask No. 12242 if you’re scoring at home. I used unmarked bills.

G-LO: Even better. What does that even mean? Unmarked.

AK: Not marked by the Feds so it can’t be traced. It’s probably all marked these days.  You know, The Man, and all their tricks to keep the peeps down. FYI, the bottom of the bottle produced a loud “ewww” from the daughters. They like their whisky sans particles.

G-LO: Damn kids. What do they know! No bubble tea for those Philistines!

AK: No nothing for those Flintstones either.

G-LO: Yabba dabba doo! I could go for a brontosaurus burger.

AK: Mmmm. Brontosaurus burgerrrr…

G-LO: There’s 22K liquid gold in my glass at the moment!

AK: There’s gold in dem der Glencairns! I like the barrel char. Why the hell any distillery would filter it out is beyond me.

G-LO: Speaking of filtering, I have another funny story. A few years ago, our friend Rob bought a bottle of Old Pulteney in England. He stores it with his wine in a temperature controlled room. I was over at his house for some drinks and he brought it out. It was all cloudy. We were still novices then, so we had no clue why this was happening. Rob is a former auditor, so he’s very inquisitive. He eventually got in touch with the distillery. The answer for the cloudiness: Non Chill Filtered. What did we know?

AK: Yep. That cold thing messes with the oils. Cloud making.

G-LO: Yup! Ain’t no joke. Nose is going in! Ouch! Hit the bridge of my nose. Went too far.

AK: BAM!

G-LO: That’s the second time this month! When we flew back from Tennessee, I made another rookie move. Opened the overhead compartment too quickly. Contents shifted during take off or landing. Kid’s booster seat fell on my face and hit the bridge of my nose.

AK: OUCH! Wood, charcoal, peat. Oh, if we didn’t say it, Caol Ila is on Islay. Land o’ Peat.

G-LO: Yep. Did I mention that Miss Tennessee was in the seat in front of me? She finished 4th in the Miss America pageant. Plays one heck of a piano. This whisky is much more intense on the nose!

AK: Three words: Hubba hubba loser.

G-LO: Ha! Poor kid. Got the smoke for sure (duh!). Also getting some fruitiness.

AK: Dried fruit. Salt. Seaweed.

G-LO: Grilled apples dusted with cinnamon.  Burns the nose hairs if you’re not careful. I’m not careful. I could add water, but why would I wanna do that?

AK: Open your mouth, then sniff, Rook! No agua por mi.

G-LO: I’m more of a pawn.

AK: You’re nothing but a King to me.

G-LO: I’m a King?

AK: Alan King, but a king nonetheless.

G-LO: He worked with Scorsese. I’ll take it!

AK: I love the smell. A good wafter.

G-LO: Perhaps some pineapple. I adore single cask whiskies! So much fun!

AK: My preferred method of travel. I like the term Raw Cask.

G-LO: Same here. There’s some menthol or eucalyptus in there. This is the Vicks Vapor Rub your mom never told you about. This is decimating the pollen that crawled into my nose this week. Way better than that Neti Pot crap Dr. Oz is selling.

AK: Whoa! I did the unthinkable and added a drop or two of water. So shoot me. Big time menthol now!!! Very medicinal!

G-LO: I jumped ahead ever so slightly.

AK: I’m rubbing THIS on my chest next time I get a cold.

G-LO: Drinking it is probably more effective.

AK: Don’t Neti Pot this stuff!

G-LO: Oh hell no! This has some weight to it. 10W30?

AK: Ain’t STP.

G-LO: Quaker State? Mobil 1? Damn this is good! Therapeutic!

AK: Indeed. Big!!

G-LO: HUGE!

AK: Love the mouth feel on this.

G-LO: Indeed. This is fun. Sophisticated yet brutish. Like a Bentley Mulsanne.

AK: “Raw Cask” seems a bit primitive for this since its rather elegant. I’ll assume that’s a car, or your butler’s name.

G-LO: It’s a car.

AK: And this is whisky.

G-LO: No. This is Whisky.

AK: Correct! Finish is magnifico!

G-LO: Smoke and maritime notes in the beginning. I may have just swallowed a fish bone! Heats up in the middle in a big way.

AK: Got to watch for those. Islays can be tricky like that.

G-LO: No kidding! Smokey, peppery, baked apple. Menthol.

AK: There’s a subtle sweetness that I really enjoy. Savory.

G-LO: Big blast of herbal and peppery heat in the finish. Tingly! Fan-freakin-tastic!

AK: Smoldering herbalness. I like the wood-planked salmon on the bbq. I’ll through some fresh herbs on top. Your rosemary, your thyme. And it lets off an intoxicating smell once it heats up and from the fire. I’m getting that here.

G-LO: Damn you! Now I’m hungry. And who said you can use my rosemary and thyme?

AK: Community property. I once saw Jim McEwan have a lovely blonde whisky taster keep a serving of Octomore in her mouth until he slowly counted to 5. I think she died when he got to 4. Literally dropped dead on the spot. But regardless, you can’t always do that with a CS whisky. The burn can get you. But this is one you can savor “responsibly” for a long time. Try it: one Kennecraig, two Kennecraig, three Kennecraig, four Kennecraig, five Kennecraig.

G-LO: Ok. Gonna set my stopwatch.

AK: One Kennecraig, two Kennecraig, three Kennecraig, four Kennecraig, five Kennecraig…

AK: G-LO?  G-LO?  You, ok?  Hey, stop screwing around!  G-LO?!!!

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G-LO: Held on for 33 seconds!

AK: Whoa! You’re a god!  Freaked me out!!

G-LO: Made my mouth water in a big way which essentially diluted it. There might be just enough left for one more try. On second thought, there’s not enough whisky to really get the full effect. I gotta tell you, letting it rest on your tongue really intensifies the finish.

AK: I think it’s an interesting test of how intense it is, and how balanced it is.

G-LO: This stuff is delicious!  As good as some single cask Bowmore that I’ve had.

AK: It really is. I’d buy another bottle if I see it again.

G-LO: Conclusions?

AK: A+. Right to the head of class.

G-LO: Damn straight, Professor Islay! Dee-lish! Kildalton was nice for sure, but does it live up to the packaging?

AK: Packaging is better. Interesting info inside and it’s essentially a donation to a Prince Chuck initiative to promote people, places and products in Scotland. I know, what about New Jersey?

G-LO: A worthy cause (Scotland, not New Jersey), but not Ardbeg’s best.

AK: Talk to Prince Christie.

G-LO: I’m sure he’d meet me if I picked up lunch.

AK: Could be big bill.

G-LO: That’s why I said lunch and not dinner. I’m thinking Brazilian steakhouse all-you-can-eat. Cheaper at lunch and basically the same as dinner. He’s sooooo worth the splurge! As far as the whisky, I think we’ve said all that needs to be said. Skip the Kildalton. Double down on the Raw Cask! Concur?

AK: Bingo. Totally down with that. I haven’t had a bad Blackadder yet and this was stellar. I’m an Ardbeg fanboy but this was not up to snuff.

G-LO: Most of their special releases are hit or miss. Tough to top the 10, Uigeadail, and Corryvreckan. Thanks for the samples, Brother Aaron! As usual, it was a delightfully intoxicating experience.

AK: Ardbeg special releases are very hit or miss. And yes, ’twas a fun sail to Islay!

G-LO: G’night Gracie!

AK: Goodnight, Dick.

G-LO: Hey now!

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