Ardbeg Uigeadail almost needs no introduction - but every post needs some form of starting point, so I’ll try my best. The original batch of Uigeadail was supposedly released on 9th October 2003 - around a similar time that Committee members were reviewing the first mature spirit produced under Glenmorangie’s ownership - Ardbeg Very Young 1998.
The original box packaging for Uigeadail contained no liquid size nor indication of ABV - just a reference to ‘traditional strength’. It did however on the back of the bottle specify Uigeadail was a vatting of bourbon barrels from 1993 and ‘...many older sherry casks’. Whilst the composition and relative age of these casks has changed over the years since, the bottling still retains the basis of the recipe. The rest, as they say is history - the bottle has won many industry awards and helped to spread the worldwide fan base for the distillery and its whisky far and wide.
Our review bottling comes from the latter part of 2017 (Whiskybase has 124 variants listed!). Like all versions, it’s bottled at 54.2% ABV.
Nose: Boldy expressive. Soot and ash are sweetened by hedgerow berries and preserved lemons. Grilled meats and spent tobacco sit with wood preservative, exhaust fumes and coastal salinity. A few drops of water unlocks some additional inner sweetness - marzipan and fondant icing.
Taste: The arrival has weight and viscosity, delivering an expansive array of sweet peat driven flavours. Bonfires next to rock pools, shellfish drizzled in lemon juice and engine oils poured over jagged granite cliffs. The mid-palate brings more salinity, along with liquorice, steeped tea herbal essences and chilli chocolate. Reduction keeps the overall shape of the whisky similar - just with less of a boom. Lemons are sweeter and are joined by tart gooseberry, salted caramel and chalky aspirin minerality.
Finish: Long, with salted lemon, putty and progressively fading smoke.
Over the years, I’ve detected less depth of sherry influence across different batches of Uigeadail. And you know what? I’m reasonably fine with that. Smoked fruity depths have been replaced by precise and chiselled coastal nuances - but none of the overall balance has been lost. Still excellent, still exceedingly tasty.