Ardbeg 10-year single malt: fine scotch or household disinfectant?

I picked up a bottle of this at the airport on the return from my last trip. I am a novice single-malt drinker, and I am just getting into the joy of trying new things (my favorite so far is Glen Moray - smooth and light). So when I saw that Ardbeg was described as smooth, and had a glowing testimonial from Jim Murray, I thought I would give it a try.

When I took it home and opened it, I could have sworn that I had opened a bottle of chloraseptic instead. It was amazing how overpowering the smell of phenol was. I let it breathe in the glass for 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes, and it only improved a tiny bit. So finally I bit the bullet and tried drinking it. On the tongue it was slightly better, but the damn phenol still filled my nose. Yes, I suppose it was smooth, but when your eyes are watering from carbolic acid, who notices? I would have thought that I got a bad batch or something (can scotch get corked?), but upon reading the little booklet that came with it, the makers proudly boasted of its smooth phenolic tones!

Has anyone else tried this scotch? Is my unxperienced palate mising something, or should I just send it on a one way trip down the drain?

It’s all about what you like, never mind what someone else liked or recommended. My current favorite single malt is Glen Fidditch. Try that.

Fine scotch, IMHO. Although you could disinfect with it in a pinch. Lysol’d be cheaper, though.

I wouldn’t call Ardbeg smooth. In fact it is one of the archetypal Islay malts, along with Laphroiag. Islay malts are extremely smokey and peaty and not to everyone’s taste (I think they’re great).

Try it with a bit of water or an ice cube.

Islay malt…blech!

Pawn it off on someone who likes that sort of stuff and get a bottle of Speyside malt instead. Better yet, find a bottle of 18 year old Highland Park! :smiley:

Stuff from Islay is an acquired taste.

For something smoother from there, find a good bar and try Lagavullin 16 year old or Laphroiag 15 year old. If you like them, you might “get” where Ardbeg is coming from. I’ve only had it a couple times. I don’t remember liking it as much as Laphroiag 10 year old (which is harsher than the 15).

Some people definitely describe them as “medicine-y”.

I’ve mentioned this in other scotch threads, but Lagavullin is pretty near impossible to find in the stores around here right now. Is it widely available where you are?

I haven’t looked for it in a while.

I’ve noticed the price on Laphroiag has gone through the roof, though. A few years ago that stuff was $33 for 750ml.

Now, $45 or something. Incredible.

Somewhere along the line, demand for stuff for Islay went berserk, or they’ve been holding back on us.

Supply & demand. The producers didn’t effectively foresee the boom in demand for single malts, so as customers have been buying up the existing stocks, the available supply has been dwindling, which has led to higher prices. Depending on your location, you may have also gotten hit with increases in sin taxes.

The fun thing about Islay is that it changes so much as it ages. I generally can’t stand Islay malts, but the 17 year old expression by Bowmore is fantastic! Just something about that amont of aging that really appeals to my palate. One year more or less and it is gone.

Demand for single malts went berserk. Lagavulin’s a prime example of how a decade and a half ago, no one predicted the growth in the American (and worldwide) market for single malts. Lagavulin has increased their production, as has nearly every other distillery, but in the short-term we’re facing a significant drop in supply and rise in price.

Ardbeg 10-year is a little rough around the edges for me, which is surprising considering that nearly all of my preferred malts are Islay (or Talisker, which is close enough to count). If you’re able to find one, a 17-year bottle of Ardbeg is worth the price.

Another vote for nice scotch, but like the others I’d add the caveat that you may just not like the Islay malts. They’re supposed to knock your socks off and they are definitely not for everyone. Trademarks of the region are phenol, peat, smoke, seaweed, salt, and tar smells and tastes. The Laphroaig 10 year is even more of a kick in the posterior.

If you want a milder and smoother exposure to the Islays, try the older 17 year Ardberg, Lagavulin 16, or the 15 year Laphroaig. Talisker is also nice, with Islay-like elements, though it comes from a different island; Isle of Skye. The Bruichladdich releases tend to be milder and lighter, while still having the elements of an Islay, so you might consider giving that a try.

so you mean there are other single malts that taste like chloraseptic? On purpose?

Just being slightly facetious…

Seriously, it is interesting to know that this is an Islay characteristic, and I think this is the first Islay I have tried. Maybe it is not my thing. Glen Moray and Glen Rothes (my other favorite) are Speyside, so maybe I should stick to that area for a while.

Funny thing… the day after I first tried the Ardbeg, my wife cut her knee on barbed wire. Fearing tetanus, I thought of disinfecting her cut with the Ardbeg, figuring that the combination of phenol and 46% alcohol would do a pretty good job!