Put one glass of dark colored spirit and one of light colored spirit in front of 10 individuals and ask them, “Which has the most robust flavor?” and the majority of folks will likely pick the darker drink. Ardbeg 10 Year is a whisky that puts the lie to the notion that darker color means bigger flavor.
This 92 proof, Islay whisky is remarkably light colored, like straw, and it’s not particularly viscous. Nose it, though, and your head will be flooded with flavor– iodine, berries, and smoke. The late, great boozehound, Michael Jackson, once wrote of Ardbeg 10 Year “Palate: Skips sweetly along at first, then becomes mean and moody in the lengthy middle of the encounter.”
That’s pretty accurate, but “mean”? No, we find it spicy, and profound and settling. It’s a whisky that makes you focus on it, then yourself. It’s not a party drink; it’s a quiet time sip to be enjoyed alone. While a bottle will set you back $40 to $50, depending on the strength of the dollar, a little of this scotch goes an awfully long way. (Rating ****1/4)