Is Ardbeg 10yo as good as it used to be?

  • SuperDrams
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    Joined: 20.11.2015Posts: 12Ratings: 30

    I've been sipping single malt for about 16 years. Over that time I have had a few bottles of Ardbeg 10. Last month I received a bottle from my brother as a birthday present. I am not enjoying it as much as I used to. The aroma promises more than the taste delivers.

    Does anyone else find this?

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  • horst_s Administrator horst_s Joined: 01.07.2014Posts: 507Ratings: 702
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    I often receive these questions. The main problem is your experiences between the two tastings of a particular bottle.

    Several years ago an Ardbeg TEN or a Lagavulin 16 years were outstanding drams in comparison to the then available alternatives. In the passed years a lot of excellent competitiors arrived and we were able to taste them all. returning to an Ardbeg TEN is no longer an epiphany as years before. Without any changes it is just another good dram.

    It is our grown experience which makes an Ardbeg TEN less extraordinary than before.

    Kind regards, Horst Luening, Master Taster, Whisky.com
    hwchoyschnazola2 liked that
  • SanctTom Member SanctTom Joined: 19.07.2014Posts: 175Ratings: 0
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    I think Horst's view ist just one way of seeing (and experiencing) this.
    Of course there is an enormous difference in the range of malts available now and then as well as a development in the personal experience and taste.
    The other way to see this is by just comparing recent editions of the same whisky to earlier bottlings head to head (or dram to dram :biggrin:) - Ardbeg with its Ten, Uigedail and Corryvreckan are particular good examples for this. While they are still very enjoyable, Ardbegs recent batches seen to lack some of the surprising complexity and depth they had to offer a few years before. The earlier batches are real stunners for their age and in direct comparison to their offspring offer way more.
    So yes - I do see it like you do, SuperDrams!

    And malt does more than Milton can To justify God's ways to man. (A. E. Housman)
  • schnazola Member schnazola Joined: 16.04.2015Posts: 31CollectionSchnaz's EmptiesRatings: 4
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    I think it's a combination of things.

    First, I think it's entirely possible that quality is being sacrificed to keep up with demand. Even if demand is not increasing -- which it certainly is, judging from the amount of whisky/whiskey being consumed on a world-wide, annual, per-capita basis -- there is always pressure from the "bean counters" to improve the bottom line by cutting corners during production: abbreviated aging, cheaper grain, and less expensive cooperage, just to name a few cost-cutting measures that could affect quality.

    Second, I think the effect that cooperage has on whisky taste is grossly underappreciated. Good barrels are harder and harder to come by. Wood doesn't just grow on trees, you know. Oh, wait. Well, good wood is harder to find. I think many producers are squeezing a bit too much from their barrels.

    Third, the more you taste, the more your palate improves. Whisky that knocked your socks off when you were a noobie just won't thrill you as much as the first time you had it. This is definitely the case with me. I recall the first time I had The Glenlivet 12yo. I was so impressed. Now, not so much. I won't turn down a dram when offered, of course, but I don't buy it anymore. :wink:

    Back to the first point, I know for a fact that quality can degrade over time. I once stumbled upon a few old bottles of inexpensive whisky in my grandmother's closet after she passed away. They were unopened. A JW Red Label, and a Canadian Club 6yo. Cheap stuff. The tax stamps indicated they were bottled in the early 1970s. Curious, I tried them both and thought they tasted better than the modern versions. I ran out and bought both of them and had my whisky buddies over for a blind tasting. Every single one of them said the older spirits were superior. When I revealed them, they were stunned that they were the "same" spirit.

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  • SuperDrams
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    Joined: 20.11.2015Posts: 12Ratings: 30
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    Apologies for the delay in replying and thank you for your replies.

    My feeling is that growing demand from foreign markets in a global economy for whisky are making it difficult for producers to maintain their high standards. Hence the number of NAS whiskies appearing on the market recently.

    "Wood doesn't just grow on trees ,you know" (Schnazola) I like this, very good:lol:

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