Whisky Review: Ardbeg Blaaack

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Ardbeg. 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.

Captain’s log: May 30th, 2020 – it is Ardbeg Day. As a pandemic sweeps the globe, travel is restricted and events are cancelled. The Ardbeg distillery is forced to host virtually on the worldwide web. The Ardbeg Blaaack Whisky Trials is a two hour social media event, and the special launch of their limited edition single malt, the Ardbeg Blaaack. The new whisky honors the 20th anniversary of the Ardbeg Committee

So why Blaaack? Well, Ardbeg chose to age their signature single malt in former pinot noir casks all the way from New Zealand. New Zealand is a country with more sheep than people. At one point, there were 30 wooly friends for every person, but in more recent years there are now just 5 to every person.

Ardbeg Blaaack

Ardbeg Blaaack (image via Ardbeg)

The Ardbeg Blaaack is the ultimate committee release. It knits together the global 120,000 plus member committee that was established January 1, 2000 to ensure “the doors of the distillery never close again.”

With Ardbeg Day celebrations this year fully online, I thought I would make a rare initial tasting video. You can check it out below along with my full review of the Ardbeg Blaaack, the lastest edition to the Ardbeg lineup.

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Tasting Notes: Ardbeg Blaaack

Vital Stats: 50.7% ABV. Islay single malt finished in ex-pinot noir casks that hail from New Zealand. 750ml $140. 

Appearance: Amber with glints of mahogany.

Nose: Peat reek with a slight hint of leather reminds me of slow smoked meat on a Traeger or marinated jerky. It’s rich with an organic earthiness similar to a tree log overcome with fungi and moss. A touch of navel orange pops through the umami, but there isn’t a true sweet note. The malted barley really comes through the entire dram.

Palate: The leather and meaty notes from the nose are present, however, these notes do not overtake the whisky. On the other hand, I can only describe it as the taste of the scent of an old baseball glove. The mouthfeel is unique; it is really clean and light with a smooth feeling, yet it is not oily. Faint orange segment mixes with fruit tartlets. The cereal grain from the nose presents on the tongue as pie dough. I suppose the “soot” note Ardbeg gives is fairly accurate; to me it comes off like charcoal, but more so cigar ash.

The finish lingers for hours. It just sits at the top of the belly warming you to an excessive temperature. Adding water doesn’t get rid of the warming sensation you’ll feel, but it will open the whisky and give it a velvety soft mouthfeel. Finally, I recommend cleansing your palate with food since the whisky leaves the taste of having smoked a cigarette for quite a long time after finishing a sip. 

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The Takeaway


The Ardbeg Blaaack has got character. The mouthfeel is incredible, and the It warms you up, which eventually after sitting at the top of my belly gave me the worst heartburn. However, it was totally worth it. If you like a single malt with ashyness, leather, and is malty but not sweet, then the Ardbeg Blaaack is for you.

User Rating 2.75 (63 votes)
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Courtney Kristjana

Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...