Bought: Ardbeg Online Shop, 17th March 2016
My first purchase from Ardbeg since becoming a committee member (which is free via their website) and I appear to have bagged a good one! When I bought the Perpetuum release last year and checked the ratings on Whiskybase against previous Islay festival releases it became apparent that the trend was downwards. Ardbog (2013) had scored less than Day (2012), Auriverdes (2014) had scored less than Ardbog, and Perpetuum (2015) had scored less than Auriverdes. The downward trend was rather worrying but Dark Cove has bounced back and ranks almost as highly as the Day.
Comments on Whiskybase include “a rather rich, spicy, oaky and maritime Ardbeg, intense, with some burnt wood but tasting also rather young.” And “an excellent nose and taste that this new Ardbeg is able to provide. Ardbeg proves that NAS can be brilliant and also so much different than the other bottles the last 5 years.”
90.5/100 in the Whisky Bible 2017 classifies this Ardbeg as “brilliant”. The 46% general release version of the Dark Cove scores a respectable 86/100. The author summaries the ‘Committee Release’ with “big sherry and bigger peat always struggle somewhere along the line. This one does pretty well until we reach the finale when it unravels slightly. But sulphur-free. And challenging.”
Here’s Maltman Mike with his review on You Tube (April 2016):