Whisky Odyssey
Old-fashioned with a twist of the modern 

Extremely young Ardbeg with heavy firepower

The whisky bloggers community with a beautiful website and tasting notes of interesting bottles, is a very nice community. The swapping and sometimes buying of samples makes the world go round, and also: I drink stuff I would not normally get into. In essence, I am a very traditional whisky enthusiast, preferring the product raw, in bourbon casks, in sherry, and then the occasional exotic cask. But there is a whole new world out there, not in the least in the shape of blended malts, focusing more on the vibe that it gives than the whisky inside (while still being good stuff).

Robbert of Confessions of a Whisky Freak sent me a sample of today’s Islay whisky. Apparently a blended malt, but for all intends and purposes probably just an Ardbeg of which we cannot tell you it is Ardbeg, but wink wink, nudge nudge, look at our clever label, this is Ardbeg. The whisky was bottled by … somebody … probably some private group that could not be bothered to make a website. If they don’t care, why should we? Let’s just taste what they decided to put in a bottle for us to enjoy. Long live the whisky geeks!

Islay Blended Malt Scotch Whisky Maffia Monkeys 4, bottled at 60,1 % abv

Makeup: Distilled on 10 September 2019, bottled on 12 September 2023, this “Hardy Scumbeg” (as the label says) is quite the youngster at 4 years old. High octane abv. Keep away from open fire!

General impressions: Very dry peat, like these big chunks drying under a summer sun, of which admittedly there is not a lot on Islay, even though I managed to get sunburns there. But yeah, nice and fresh young peated whisky, I am a sucker for that. But I will taste first undiluted before we will drop some water and search for nuances. Oh yeah, this is delicious! Brine, lemons, barbecued meat, but always very fresh and natural. Was this a quarter cask? Feels more mature than 4 years old, but a good peated Islay can easily fool you there.

With water: more maritime now, with some salty influences drifting by. Kelp, stones drying during low tide. Really a pleasure to nose, the water made it very accessible. The taste also went towards a more maritime note, and a dominating sour note from lemons appear. Very balanced with a long, warming, almost traditional Islay finish.

Conclusion: Ardbeg does incredibly well at young age, the Wee Beastie (5 years) and the 8 years old are proof of that. This bottling by the Maffia Monkeys almost makes you understand why Ardbeg chooses to release so many NAS bottlings; the stuff does not need to be old to play with. But this single cask outperforms them all. Very entertaining.

Score: 89 points

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