This review of Ardbeg Corryvreckan is part two of my Ardbeg Assay.
First things first, go ahead and Google what the Corryvreckan is, I’ll save you the spiel. Yes, it’s terrifying.
Ardbeg Corryvreckan, on the other hand, is more approachable than the maritime feature that stands as its emblem. The whisky is barreled in toasted French oak (80%), and Bourbon casks (20%). Again, we get a feel for the quality of barrels getting filled at Ardbeg. Many shortcuts and cheaper substitutions could be made for French oak, but, this most expensive wood makes up the overwhelming majority of barrels that comprise a bottling of Corryvreckan. Impressive.
It’s also bottled at the confrontationally high strength of 57.1%. For this reason, like the Corryvreckan, Ardbeg Corryvreckan requires some advanced warning and knowledge to traverse. Belt this whisky back, and it will harm you. But, give it time, and it opens up into something very enjoyable.
Rich amber. I have to admit, this is a pretty appealing colour, and a nice surprise, as it always will be, coming from a green bottle. There’s a moment that I really revel in when pouring whisky from a green bottle. A zen moment, that brings us to terms with our innermost whisky colour biases.
Though the packaging doesn’t state that Corryvreckan is free from caramel colouring, there is a way to figure it out. Thankfully, in Germany, any addition of E150a, or caramel colouring, must be stated on the label. A quick verification through an online German retailer assures us that no E150a has been added to Corryvreckan. In other words, mitt farbstoff? Nein!
An intensification and redistribution of the peat trinity that we nosed from the Ardbeg 10 – medicinal/earthy/marine. Here, the coastal aromas turn down. Layered with a heady incense of resinous wood, freshly chopped and drying in the sun. Checking your axe for sharpness, you cut your finger, and apply a medicated bandage. At night, by the fire, you open your thermos of hot and sour soup and steamed dumplings dipped in Chinese red vinegar. Rich and heavily perfumed, redolent. Thunder cracks and a ripple of ozone passes through your tent.
The reduced nose brings out sand castles and morning floatsam.
Despite the significant strength, this doesn’t burn on the nose, really almost not at all.
Full, bold, and oaky. No punches pulled here, just full strength whisky. Dark, moist gingerbread and a daub of treacle, with a warm glass of black rum, dried cranberries & curaçao. Cacao. 110% cocoa chocolate. With the addition of water, the bitterness rounds off into sweet black licorice allsorts.
Full, chewy, for a while, but ultimately manageable and not overflowing. Tempts the next quaff, even at such a high strength.
Initially intense, then vanishing into dryness. Trace of bitterness. Brined spicy green olives.
Corryvreckan rewards the patient, and is tolerant to a good splash of water. Pour it, have a wee sip, then leave it in your glass, forget about it, come back an hour later, and taste it again.
Even without an age statement, you know that when Corryvreckan is poured, you’ll have some full strength, non coloured, handsomly casked, pure whisky ahead of you, and that’s nothing to balk at.
Though, specs don’t tell the whole story, and though I find this whisky interesting, it doesn’t fully turn my crank. While it is clearly above par in every category of assessment, it still lacks the body, depth, and roguishness that I look for in single malt. Yet it stands, another bold and balanced Ardbeg, taken to a very high level of intensity.
The Ardbeg Corryvreckan I sampled for this review was stamped with bottle code:
L59173 31/07/2014 | 14008198 14:51
Check out Tim Puett’s website The Ardbeg Project which gives, among many many other things, an in-depth explanation of bottle codes if you’re curious to know what they mean. It seems like the code format has changed since the page was last updated, but I’ll still provide the bottling codes in full with all my Ardbeg reviews.
Stay tuned for part three of my Ardbeg Assay, a review of Ardbeg Uigeadail