Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Ardbeg Fermutation Special Committee Edition 13 Year Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

- $200
- 98.8 Proof
- 13 Years
- Islay

Ardbeg's committee releases are incredibly consistently good, so much so that I rarely think twice about buying one when I get the chance. This, however, was one of the first that I was eager to get my hands on when I first heard of its release. As it is, Ardbeg puts out some fairly funky stuff, and certainly lands on the higher end of peated Scotches. 

However, this release promised to be one of its funkiest ever.  Ardbeg touted it as their longest fermentation ever, hence the name, "Fermutation." Based on their press releases, this particular bottling was fermented for over three weeks (much more than the few days that are typical) before being distilled. So, whether or not it would be better than other Ardbegs was a complete crap shoot.  But, I was confident that it was certainly going to be different than other Ardbeg releases.

The nose immediately exposed the funkiness of this Scotch. It smelled like a smokey hayride on a damp fall day.  That sounds incredibly pretentious and a bit dramatic, but I did get notes of hay mixed with the peat, and there was a damp, musty wood note to it as well. However, there were also great notes of unsweetened vanilla and even stewed pears. Behind the hayride was a kind of a brandy note that really complemented those smoky notes. 

The flavor mostly followed suit. I got those hay notes, but they were what I described as "pillowy," like a soft and delicious saison beer. Of course, it being Ardbeg, the peat smoke was front and center, but there was a soft yeast note or bready note to it as well. What really stood out, however, was a bright lemongrass note that really kept everything from getting too "heavy."

Other sweeter notes came through as well, including a nice and bright honey note as well as a graham cracker note. There was something nutty up front as well, but I couldn't quite put my thumb on it. It was earthy and somewhat sweet.  And of course that peat smoke carried throughout.

The finish, though, was where I really fell in love with this bottle. All of that funk remained, with lemongrass and hay notes leading the way. But the honey notes kept it sweet.  It was very viscous, and I was finally able to place my thumb on the nutty note, which was kind of like a walnut oil flavor. The peat really hit harder on the finish as well, and it combined with a distinct cooling, almost minty sensation on the finish that was not only completely unexpected but was pretty awesome. 

This was not your typical Ardbeg, that's for sure. While it had the peat, it didn't have those typical brighter, lighter notes that I get behind the peat in other Ardbeg offerings. But, this was a lot of fun, certainly scratched that itch when I was in the mood for something funky, and it had one of the most memorable finishes I can recall.  

Grade: A

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