Tag Archives: 46.6%

Ardbeg ‘An Oa’

Bought: Waitrose, 17th February 2018

Ratings:
84.06/100 – Whiskybase (average from 390 member votes)
8/10 – Whisky Wednesday (video review below)

In September 2017 Ardbeg released the ‘An Oa’ named after a peninsular on the island of Islay. It’s the first bottle since 2009 to be added to the distillery’s core range, which include the Corryvreckan, Uigeadail and the ‘TEN’ 10yo. It may be yet another NAS (no age statement) from Ardbeg but at least it packs a punch at 46.6%. The An Oa is a vatting together of different cask types – ex-bourbon, Pedro Ximénez and virgin oak, so nothing especially unusual there. But you wouldn’t expect anything too experimental in the recipe when creating a regular release from the distillery.

It’s been 8 months since the launch of An Oa and reviews suggest it’s doing OK but just ‘OK’. Over 84/100 on Whiskybase is a very good mark but it’s lagging behind its core range family members. Their Whiskybase averages are:

  • 88.5/100 – Corryvreckan (from 1735 votes)
  • 89.19/100 – Uigeadail (from 2893 votes)
  • 86.34/100 – ‘TEN’, 10-year-old (from 2922 votes)

Comments online about the An Oa include, “better than other standard editions right now but it is not great and rather average”, “truly epic whisky”, “unbalanced dram, PX and Virgin oak are fighting”, “I’ve been an Ardbeg lover for many years and this is a truly worthy addition to the family”.

The An Oa has its fans but at the same time there’s no guarantee that an existing Ardbeg fan will take to this youthful new upstart. On Master of Malt, where the An Oa scores 4/5 stars from 37 votes, the comments blow very hot and cold. Some people love it and others say it’s “barely drinkable”. It may cost more than the ‘TEN’ and score less than the 10yo in reviews but it’s still an Ardbeg so it will sell regardless of opinions.

Here’s Whisky Wednesday with their thoughts about the Ardbeg ‘An Oa’ on YouTube (Oct 2017), which they score an impressive 8/10:

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Mosstowie 1979 31-year-old

Bought: English Whisky Company, 28th July 2015

Ratings:
87.2/100 – Whiskybase (average from 7 member votes)

Mosstowie wasn’t a distillery but the name given to the output of two Lomond stills housed at the Miltonduff distillery between 1964 and 1981. The ‘Lomond’ still was invented in 1956 by Hiram Walker in an attempt to solve the demand from blenders who wanted more variety in whisky, therefore more distilleries. The neck of the Lomond still was designed to house 3 ‘rectifier plates’, which could be adjusted to alter the resulting liquid. It sounded marvellous in theory but the cleaning process of the stills was laborious and in the end there wasn’t enough demand for the output.

If you’re a collector, acquiring a bottle of Mosstowie should be a good investment. There were never any official bottlings because the resulting whisky was destined for blending. Independent bottlers such as Gordon & MacPhail, Duncan Taylor and Signatory have made releases but they are few and far between. I’m surprised that auction prices are quite reasonable but that might be because ‘Lomond’ production is still available from the Loch Lomond distillery, so the taste experiences hasn’t died out. In fact Loch Lomond whisky tends to be quite average, which may explain why output from Mosstowie wasn’t in demand and prices are relatively low even today.

Thankfully the votes on Whiskybase suggest that this particular Mosstowie 31yo is an excellent dram. Bottled 5 years ago in 2010, the level is reasonably high, although it’s hard to tell. As a collector I’m looking for a good level in the neck but this style of bottle is always filled to the shoulders. It’s difficult to tell if there’s been any evaporation but perhaps that was part of Signatory’s cunning plan when they chose the bottle shape. It’s certainly very pleasing to look at, albeit frustrating for a collector trying to detect evaporation.

Mosstowie 1979 31yo