Ardbeg Grooves

Ardbeg Grooves was the limited edition release for 2018’s Ardbeg Day—June 2nd, in case you didn’t have it in your calendar. Part of the whisky was aged in ex-wine casks, and those wine casks were charred, resulting in some serious grooves in the wood, hence “Ardbeg Grooves.”

The scotch whisky pours a medium, ruddy gold in the glass and has a nose that can be picked up from a foot away. The chief aromas are smoke, petrol, sea spray, salt, and something a bit like burning rubber—but in a good way.

It starts more mellow than may be expected with a dark, fruity note that recalls stone fruit, plums, and red wine. But lest you get your categories confused, smoke and salt soon activate while the center of the palate moves to a rich note of salted dark chocolate followed by cinnamon. From there, the savory quality only increases, until the flavors take on a grilled meat quality that will have you wondering whether you’ve just bit into a piece of sliced, salted ham. All the while, it stays dry in the mouth, with a little heat, though less than you’d expect from a 92-proof whisky.

The finish of Ardbeg Grooves retains all the smoke and salt from the center, but that carnivorous note gives way to a tempered spice that settles in for a long, dry finish—it buzzes on the tongue for minutes afterward without a spike in heat. It’s a consistent, measured, and enjoyable end to a wild ride of a whisky that seems to take on new flavors and dimensions with each flick of the tongue.

★★★★

Stats:
— 46% ABV
— $109.99


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