So it has happened again. In case you missed it, the cult following and mass hysteria driven event that is the Ardbeg Day, saw the unveiling of the powerhouse distilleries annual Committee Release; Drum. This edition is part of their yearly special release to coincide with Islay’s Feis Ile Festival (24th May – 1st June). With the festivals last day marking the release of the Drum standard edition.
This years online shopping experience ran a lot smoother that 2018 which saw the Ardbeg website crash under heavy load. The addition of a merchant service (the ability to pay immediately) was a welcome upgrade to the previous years clunky, order now and pay later method.
For those playing along at home, the Committee Release is exactly that, a special expression released only to Ardbeg Committee members. This is a free service and can be signed up to quickly and easily on the distilleries website.
Drum is a NAS, non chill filtered Single Malt Scotch Whisky, aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished in ex-rum casks from the Americas. “We’re delighted to introduce Ardbeg Drum – a celebration of all of the mixed up, mashed up influences that make Ardbeg, Ardbeg,” said Ardbeg distillery manager Mickey Heads in a prepared statement.
The difference between the two expression? The Committee Release (CR) come with no sleeve, dulled down label, but hyped up ABV at 52%. Whereas the standard release will come with full colour labels and sleeve and be watered down to 46%.
What is the difference in taste between the two expressions? Good question, but unfortunately although I am a very long term Ardbeg fan boy, and I own every CR since the inaugural release of Renaissance in 2008, I am still not cool enough to get a pre release sample (I am not bitter at all). But I digress.
Ardbeg DRUM (CR)
Nose: Pine thistles and charred oak, light salted overripe banana and pineapple in (as promised by distiller Michael Heads) an absolute mash up of delicious aromas, before crashing heavily into a wall of campfire cooked apples.
Palate: Quite thick and oily, waves of smoke, burning tar and white pepper. Cloves, red liquorice, rich double dark chocolate and vanilla.
Finish: Intense smoke, coffee liqueur, boiled toffee and sweet spices come together in one deliciously complex crescendo.
Legacy: Look, ok, I have never tasted an Ardbeg I haven’t liked. Anyone that has followed me for long enough will know that. I am constantly beating the Ardbeg Drum (I am sorry I had to do that) But I truly enjoyed this expression. It was so light and fruity and just easy to drink. In fact, I have finished one of my two bottles already. 7.5 out of 10.