Scotch By Nino Kilgore-Marchetti / May 20, 2020 Each year, as a celebration of its dedicated fan base known as the Ardbeg Committee, the Ardbeg distillery on Islay in Scotland does both an appreciation day on site and also the worldwide release of a special whisky. The day event, globally known as Ardbeg Day, sadly has been canceled for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic (alongside the associated Islay festival of music and malt known as Fèis Ìle), but a virtual replacement has been planned that’s still themed with this year’s whisky release, known as Ardbeg Blaaack.What’s being called the Ardbeg Blaaack Whisky Trials, according to those behind it, will be broadcast on May 30, 2020 via social media to Ardbeg fans around the world. The two-hour program of tastings, games, and entertainment is in celebration of the Ardbeg Committee’s 20th anniversary (founded in the year 2000). Ardbeg Blaaack (image via Ardbeg)“We were looking forward to marking Ardbeg Day this year with our dyed-in-the-wool fans here at the Distillery, and at celebrations around world,” said Mickey Heads, Ardbeg Distillery Manager, in a prepared statement. “Sadly, global events overtook us. However, we’ve put our heads together and come up with a back-up plan to keep our Committee Members entertained, safe at home.“I’ll be shepherding the Ardbeg team in an online extravaganza instead – expect tastings of some much-loved whiskies, fun, conversation and maybe even a few Blaaack-inspired surprises.”You can tune into the Ardbeg Blaaack Whisky Trials from 7pm BST on Ardbeg’s Facebook page, with content available to watch later on Ardbeg.com, Instagram and YouTube. As for the associated whisky, Ardbeg Blaaack is a Scotch single malt that heads down the road towards that typical smoke flavor characteristic the distillery is known for. Where the twist occurs though is that, for the first time in Ardbeg’s history, the distillery team rounded up Pinot Noir casks for the whisky’s time spent aging that come from “the country that lies the furthest distance from Islay – New Zealand,”that other remote island nation where sheep have been known to outnumber the locals by 7:1.” The theme of the whisky is thus something that celebrates the Committee’s “black sheep members – known for their peaty passion and maverick attitude.”“In every corner, of every far-flung place, you’ll find an Ardbeg Committee member,” noted Heads. “For 20 years they’ve been proudly demonstrating their black-sheep behavior. Ardbeg Blaaack is the best possible way to pay tribute to our tearaway fans who, like us, are shorn to be wild!”“Ardbeg Blaaack knits together velvety summer fruit pudding and bitter cherry, with a deeper edge of soot and Ardbeg’s hallmark smoke,” added Dr Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg Director of Whisky Creation. “It’s the perfect dram for toasting our legendary Committee.”Blaaack is bottled at 46% ABV and presents itself with a deep cherry blossom color due to the aging in the Pinot casks. It prices around $140 per 750 ml bottle. Official tasting notes are below for your consideration.Aroma: On the nose baked fruit pudding knits together seamlessly with cedar wood and aromatic cigar box. Oak tannins and rich truffles then break away to reveal subtle notes of smoky jam tart. With a splash of water, intense aromas of bitter cherry and a curiously zesty note emerges. Naturally, this dram then travels in a different direction with lovely fragrant violet notes.Taste: A velvety and surprisingly furry mouthfeel drives your palate into a complex symphony of contrasting flavours. Aniseed, soot and summer fruits – such as cherries, strawberries, apricots and pears – give way to crumbly pastry, dark chocolate, coffee and almonds.Finish: A long, lingering sooty finish.