Bought: Drink Supermarket, 4th December 2014
At last! I finally got the Ardbeg Uigeadail! If you have a copy of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible you’ll understand where my excitement is coming from. No other whisky scores more than 97.5/100 in the Bible, although there are 12 others that share the same honour. But something’s not right when you start reading Jim Murray’s review. There are 2 versions of Uigeadail. The one scoring 97.5/100 he believes is a release for the Canadian market, which he tasted in 2008 (so not a recent review) with a strength of 54.2%. Another version with a strength of 54.1% scores 89/100. Confused?! That’s whisky reviews for you!
Thankfully my bottle is 54.2%, the same as the 97.5/100 version but it seems that the Whisky Bible’s score and review are 7 years old! Perhaps a more up-to-date opinion can be gleamed from Ralfy’s review from May 2013 where he scores the Uigeadail 89/100. But he last reviewed it in March 2009 and scored it 92/100 (which is Ralfy’s highest score, so the equivalent of the Bible’s 97.5).
I’m getting the impression that standards have slipped a bit with the great Uigeadail but, as I’ve not tasted it before, will I notice or even care? Probably not. I’m also beginning to spot a trend in long-term whisky reviewers that, a lot of the time they say “whisky tasted so much better in the old days!” or words to that effect. Is this true or, as science proved many years ago, taste degrades as we grow older? But there can be other factors. I’m reminded of a lovely occasion during a family gathering when I first experienced the Lagavulin 16yo. I was thoroughly enjoying myself and a single malt had never tasted better! Over a year later I tried it again, sober and alone, and it didn’t taste half as nice. Nostalgia has a lot to answer for! So how accurate can reviews and re-reviews be if our changing age, mood, and other external factors influence our taste?
Well, the answer is, if you want to try a whisky you’ve never experienced before, if the majority of people say it’s good, chances are it is. Combine that with knowing your whisky likes and dislikes (peat or no peat?) you’ll rarely buy a bad dram, especially from a reliable distillery. But, avoid drinking whisky when you’re feeling miserable! I always find that cake is a better choice!