Editor’s Note: This whisk(e)y was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Three years ago, Ardbeg announced a new permanent release— the 19-year-old Traigh Bhan. Traigh Bhan, pronounced “Tri-Van,” is named after Islay’s beach, known as the “Singing Sands” to locals. Now on its fourth bottling, each batch differs from one another similar to the changes in coastal weather. Each Traigh Bhan whisky also carries its own unique batch code, batch symbol, and signature from one of the Distillery’s famous faces. Batch 4 bears the signature of Distillery Manager Colin Gordon.
It seems with every batch of the Ardbeg Traigh Bhan, the conditions under which the liquid is bottled are just as important. Batch 2 was bottled during a Haar or a thick coastal mist. Batch 3 of course was bottled during a global lockdown. As for Batch 4, the tides have changed for the whisky, which was bottled under a full moon. Tall tales or not, the finer details in the production of Ardbeg whisky add to the character.
The Traigh Bhan remains the oldest whiskey in Ardbeg’s permanent core lineup of whiskies. Compared to the previous batches, Batch 4 has a larger proportion of Oloroso sherry casks in its blend. Ardbeg’s Whisky Creator, Dr. Bill Lumsden thinks the new batch “follows in the footsteps of previous bottlings, but thanks to some tweaks to the recipe, we’ve brought more woodsmoke, menthol, and aniseed to the fore. This is an impossibly balanced, not-to-be-missed Ardbeg.”
Tasting Notes: Ardbeg 19-Year-Old Traigh Bhan Batch 4
Vital Stats: 46.2% ABV. Blend of higher proportion Oloroso sherry casks than American oak casks compared to previous batches. 750ml $300.
Appearance: Brassy light gold
Nose: There is a lot my mind is trying to process with this dram. At first, I smell a stinky teenager’s room or a Magic the Gathering convention. It is a mixture of dried old sweat and Fritos. Once past the grodiness, brown sugar and eucalyptus spring forth. There are deep layers of cocoa powder and cocoa nib. On the back end is a touch of kola nut.
Palate: The mouthfeel is light and peppery. Icing sugar provides just enough sweetness without making the dram too sweet. Almond and cashew give depth with a layer of nuttiness amongst the sooty backdrop. Blood orange and grapefruit oil mix with saline like a Salty Dog. The smoke is more robust on the finish and lingers well after sipping like a menthol Virginia Slim.