When it comes to an adventure, 3 things are required: great locations, amazing food, and fantastic quality liquor. Those are usually the first things that come to my mind at least. So when I was asked to join Ardbeg for an ARDventure into rural Ontario to a little town called Ardbeg, I, of course, said Yes!
For those of you that don’t know, Ardbeg, (named after the town it was born and made in Scotland on the Isle of Islay) is a single malt scotch whiskey small batch producer that was founded in 1815, and since the late 1880’s has produced over a million liters, and had to this day stayed one of the world’s most respected scotch brands.
When we set off on our Ardventure from Toronto I was picked up in a blacked out Mercedes van that came with everything you could ever need. Comfy leather seats, climate control, charging stations, mini-fridge, the works. This wasn’t anywhere near the best part of the trip, but it did pave the way to a path that would lead to quite the “Ardventure”.
As we headed out into the countryside I was given my suitcase for the trip, it was the closest to being James Bond as I will ever get. The briefcase had everything that I might need for a stint in the country. From a metal travel mug to my own personal camo jacket, to a bottle of the 10 Year, it was equipped to ensure I had the perfect trip.
From the moment we arrived in the country we knew that it was going to be something special, and that wasn’t just because I was already a fan of Ardbeg, it was the setting, the people, the last breath of the warm weather that was one of most beautiful Canadian summers on record.
Knowing that I was already a big fan of Ardbeg, easily one of my favourite of the peatier single malt scotches available today, I was really looking forward to further aqcuainting myself with the entire collection including:
The 10 Year
The Ardbeg 10 year is know the world over as one of the smokiest, peatiest single malt scotch whisky’s that you can purchase. But unlike some of the other choices on the market, the 10 is so much more then the peat and the smoke, it’s complex, it has layers, and best of all, it’s down right beautiful.
As you sip the 10 Year, the crackling peat brings an explosion of flavour. For me, the second flavour I always get is lemon with a hint of black pepper. Once the initial sip goes down you’ll get a wave of the brine or almost salt, mixed with the sweet taste of currents, the smoke in the sip then wraps back around like a hug as you feel tiny hints of toasted marshmallow.
Now you may think that’s a lot for just one sip of the dram, but once you learn to really enjoy a great scotch at your own pace, you really start to discover so many amazing flavors in what seems like an endless profile.
In 2009, Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible named Ardbeg Uigeadail ‘World Whisky of the Year’ – in praise of its “utter silky brilliance” and “complexity on a level only a handful of distilleries in the world can even dream of reaching.” and this couldn’t be more true.
Where I find that the 10 year delivers flavors to you a bit at a time, the Uigeadail give you a rush of perfectly balanced notes and flavours in unison.
The full taste comes in the moment it hits your tongue and you feel the systematic balance between sweet, smoky and spicy all in one moment, the flavour is noticeably sweeter than the 10, but that’s not a bad thing at all, actually quite the opposite.
As you feel the second wave a burst of winter spices rolls over your pallet and you feel a touch of honey or almost a maple smoked bacon, rolling up at the end with deep, smokey taste that really wraps the whole flavour experience.
Really I wish the computer could open while you were reading this so you could taste it too. A. because it’s really quite amazing. B. Because you just have to taste it for yourself.
Corryvreckan takes its name from the famous whirlpool that lies to the north of Islay, where only the bravest souls dare to venture.
As you dive into this dram you’ll first notice a deep and peppery steak taste with a bit of salty seaweed, as the flavour moves on your tongue you’ll get the bold flavour of cherry, a hint of blueberries, and black currants, and the taste finished back around and you get the last flavours of star anise and hickory.
If you’re like me, you’ll instantly be ready for another glass of this single malt scotch that stands in a category of its own, much like the trip.
The days of the Ardventure would bring new friendships, great conversations, as well as fishing, boating, archery, table hockey, ping pong, tastings, and last but surely not least, amazing food.
Not only were we spoiled with an amazing few days, we were truly lucky to have been made amazing meal after amazing meal that went from a full country breakfast with chicken and waffles, all the way to a high-end dinner that included pumpkin squash soup, salmon, and a meat pie.
I could honestly go on for days about how amazing the food was, but I digress.
What did I learn on this adventure? That I Love Scotch…ok well we already knew that but I now love it even more, Ardbeg to be specific. I also really advise you to explore Ontario, we really are so lucky to live in such a beautiful province, in one of the best countries of the world.
Adventure, discover and always have a great dram or drink near by. Sláinte.