Ardbeg’s annual special release is easily one of the most anticipated events in the whisky world. This year to BWG’s delight, Ardbeg decided to do a simultaneous world wide unveiling and distribution of their 2014 special release, Auriverdes. Buffalo’s allotment was shipped this past week and in now available in extremely limited quantities. We were able to sample and review Ardbeg’s last two special release bottlings, Ardbog and Galileo, (click those links for our reviews) and were eager to add this year’s whisky to our library of features. Auriverdes’ (auri – meaning gold and verdes – meaning green) marketing twist is its barrel aging process, explained below by Ardbeg’s Brand Director Gregor Mina:
“The casks are American white oak ex-Bourbon barrels, which were shipped over from the United States as per the norm. When the casks arrived in Scotland, we had the heads removed, and replaced them with new American oak heads that I had specially made for us, which had been heat treated using a particular (and secret) toasting regime, designed to achieve a special flavor profile, producing in particular flavors of mocha and coffee. These re-worked barrels were then filled with spirit, and ultimately blended together with a proportion of ‘classic’ Ardbeg from 1st and 2nd fill Bourbon barrels.”
All that being said, this whisky is much less powerful than what we’ve come to expect from Ardbeg. The peat smoke is very easy going, it defers to sweeter notes like vanilla cream, toffee and mixed fruits. The palate has a very creamy feel and there’s more of the sweet vanilla flavors along with a typical Ardbegish spicy peat. Although creamy, the palate washes away quickly heading to a soft, smokey, rather quick finish. This Ardbeg expression is much less complex than others in their range, it also comes at a much higher price tag. Ardbeg states on the bottle, “mocha coffee flavors team up with creamy vanilla.” We had a hard time picking out any mocha flavors, but found the creamy vanilla to be the star of the show. Although this is not an all time great by the famous Islay distillery, we enjoyed this sweeter Ardbeg bottling and look forward to pairing it with summer time bbq dinners and fire-side deserts. Locally available at Gates Circle Liquors for $130. Rating: 88/100.