Post image for Ardbeg Auriverdes Launch, Bar Gabányi, Munich

Ardbeg Auriverdes Launch, Bar Gabányi, Munich

by Oliver Klimek on May 20, 2014

It’s that time of year again, Ardbeg release their eagerly anticipated annual special bottling. From surprise bottles with countdown websites they have switched to early announcements. The surprise factor is lost anyway when the mandatory US label approval process makes them public well in advance.

This year’s theme is football, and the Ardbeg Auriverdes owes its name to the flag and national football team of Brazil who is hosting this year’s World Cup. Also it suggests “golden whisky in a green bottle”, of course. But the parallel to football stops here because – other than for example Ballantine’s Brasil – this is “just Ardbeg”, and nothing in its production details remotely hints to Brazil or even football. Which is not too surprising.

DSC_1639Having attended the flamboyant Galileo launch party at the same place two years ago, I had expected the omnipresent Ardbeg girls to swap their wellies for football shoes and encouraging guests to do some good old-fashioned Torwand shooting. But much to my surprise this year’s event was on a much smaller scale. Tasting glasses for around 20 people set up in the (too) dimly lit bar, some bread, and this was it. This modesty was unexpected but much appreciated because much of Ardbeg’s PR has been a bit over the top in recent years.

Stefan Gabányi served his signature Peat Juleps as a welcome drink, then German brand ambassador Thomas Zilm took over for a tasting that included the Ardbeg Ten, Uigeadail, Corryvreckan and finally the Auriverdes. The main focus of the tasting was on the different cask types used for the different whiskies and how this afffects the flavours.

The Auriverdes is matured in a mixture of first and second fill bourbon casks that were fitted with new cask heads which had been toasted to a secret specification. Dr. Bill Lumsden’s handwriting is clearly visible here. Let’s see how this special treatment worked out:

DSC_1643Ardbeg Auriverdes

49.9%


My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dark gold
Nose: Burnt down fireplace, vanilla, liquorice, butterscotch, cloves, hints of nutmeg and pepper, a bit restrained.
Palate: Not really strong peat, liquorice, bubblegum, vanilla, only minimal citrus, hints of chocolate, cloves and nutmeg.
Finish: Very long, smoky and slightly spicy, ashy.
Overall: Very smooth and mild upfront but it has great staying power. An intriguing combination of driness and aromatic spices gives way to wafts of ashy smoke.

Rating: 89/100 – Price Tag $$$$$ – Value for your Money $$$$$

ardbegauriverdesgoldThe Auriverdes is indeed my favourite of the recent annual bottlings since the Rollercoaster. It is both approachable and complex at the same time and it has a magnetic quality that draws you in and makes you want to taste it as long as possible because it keeps evolving on the palate. It does not have an age statement but the Ardbeg Auriverdes feels much more mature than most of the recent new-oak-rush-matured expressions on the market.

I cannot spare you a comment on the infamous golden Auriverdes bottles making their way to auctions before the whisky even is officially launched and selling there for ludicous prices. These bottles were given to “VIPs” like bloggers, writers and Ardbeg Embassies as a token of appreciation. Turning these valuable gifts into personal profit is one of the most loathsome things I have come across in the whisky world so far.

While the Auriverdes we had at the tasting was poured from regular bottles, Stefan Gabányi being owner of an Ardbeg Embassy has a golden one on his bar counter. And it is open.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Gal Granov May 20, 2014 at 10:58 am

so did you steal one one ? ;)

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two-bit cowboy May 20, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Hi Oliver,

I heartily agree with your assessment. Although the official notes don’t mention liquorice, it seems you found it quite prominent too. Delicious. This is my favorite of all the Ardbeg annual releases.

I looked at the photos before reading your post. I wondered why Simon Brooking would be holding up a bottle of Ardbeg. Seems he and Thomas Zilm could nearly be twins from your photo of Zilm.

Bob

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Oliver Klimek May 20, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Liquorice was among the first things I tasted, but I did not really get much of the coffee aromas that the original tasting notes mention.

Reply

Robert June 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I barely bought one, as I had heard it was mediocre. After a week of tasting, I hurried back and bought two more. It was quite good on first tasting and has improved with air and time. Definitely different from the 10 and Corryvrecken, but definitely Ardbeg. And yes, I got the ground roasted coffee in my tasting, which I really enjoy. I also really enjoy the nose, but water dulls it. Water does help with the palate though, changing the flavors some and making it more creamy ( like with Laphroaig CS). Good stuff!

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