This whiskey is a pale straw colour. It is free from colouring and is also non-chillfiltered, which many people think makes for a fuller and more complex whisky. Whisky has naturally occuring oils that give the spirit a cloudy appearance at low temperatures, and while not affecting the taste, it is not a desired effect for many distillers when trying to produce a high-class product. There are two ways of getting round the problem of clouding. The first is to chill-filter, which involves chilling the whisky so that the oils solidify, sink to the bottom and can then be removed. Many say that removing these oils also removes some of the taste and depth from the whisky. The other way of getting round the problem is to bottle the whisky at a strength of >45%. It is the latter method that is used by Ardbeg. Anyway, enough of the diversion.....
This whisky has a smokey, but sweet nose. On first pouring the fruitiness is more apparent, but after resting for five minutes, the fruit starts to be replaced by smoke. There is also a slightly medicinal smell, and a touch of salt.
On tasting, Ardbeg is pretty intense, with lots of smoke and warmth, although it still seems fresh, clean and light. The finish is long and smokey with a slight spiciness.
Overall a great whisky, certainly one that has a character of it's own. It's intensity means for me that it's not an every-day whisky, but definitely one to have as a treat when in the mood for something a bit more powerful.