The midst of our record-shattering winter seems like a perfectly good time to release a new Islay scotch, and Ardbeg is right on top of that with the release of its new An Oa. This one’s a combination, incorporating whisky that’s aged in the likes of Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, ex-bourbon, virgin charred oak and more.
It pours light gold in the glass and has a rich, salty nose that features dark cherry, almond and a bit of kiwi. It’s warm from the beginning, and kicks things off with a strong—but not overwhelming—volley of peat, which is followed a bright, honey sweetness with almond at the center. The salty peat mixes with sweet almond to create a delicious flavor familiar to anyone who’s ever enjoyed a roasted nut. The surprising sweetness at the center becomes acidic in the back and takes on a note of kiwi, which is followed by a second volley of peat that is darker and smokier at the finale. Its pleasant finish ends with light spice and oak.
That nutty sweetness at the center of An Oa makes it something you can safely slip to the Islay-phobic, yet its double serving of peat will service those looking for some smoke with their spirit. It’s a complex, yet surprisingly easy drinking scotch—a feat even more commendable once you consider its 93.2 proof.
— 46.6% ABV
CE Rating: ★★★