Ardbeg Distillery is one of the more famous Islay distillers known for their strong peat smoke and yet somehow extremely well-balanced malts. Their core range consists of Ardbeg 10, An Oa, Uigeadail, Corryvreckan, Supernova and now, the newest addition, Ardbeg Traigh Bhan (pronounced “Tri-Van”). This 19-year-old small batch whisky is matured in a combination of American oak and Oloroso Sherry casks. Aging this expression for 19 years has only slightly mellowed the peat and certainly created a wonderfully complex and balanced malt.
Traigh Bhan, also known as ‘Singing Sands’ beach is located not far from Ardbeg Distillery on the Isle of Islay. Its soft white sands have been said to sing under one’s feet and is only interrupted by several dark volcanic rocks dramatically jutting towards the sky. It is this contrast, and yet perfect balance, that attracts many to this place and inspired this expression by the distillers at Ardbeg.
Bottled at 46.2% ABV during a storm (says so on the box!), Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19-year-old has all the characters of their 10-year-old at its core but even more refined. Also found in this cornucopia of a dram is the familiar sweet fruitiness of Ardbeg Drum and the spirited spiciness of Ardbeg Corryvreckan. Most whiskies will have their strengths and weaknesses. However, I have yet to find any negative traits with Traigh Bhan.
Nose: Smoky charred pineapple, Chocolate banana, sandalwood smoke and chili peppers.
Palate: Creamy velvet, tropical fruit, tobacco and cedar smoke, aromatic spices.
Finish: More cream, fruit and chili chocolate heat. Sweet charcoal with hints of burnt, abused motor oil…. but in a good way!