Saturday, 31 May 2014 we hit the road early morning. Our destination, Dullstroom for the annual Ardbeg Day celebrations hosted by Wild About Whisky. Wild about Whisky was opened in 2006 by Eve Gunns, Steve Adams, and Dave Gunns as a comfy little whisky bar. It possesses the largest whisky menu in the southern hemisphere.
Dullstroom is a beautiful little town about 3 hours drive from where we live. The proximity made it easy to drive through for Ardbeg Day. The theme for the the 2014 Ardbeg Day was the Ardbeggian take on the Football World Cup. Football has a rich and noble history in mainland Scotland.
First on the agenda was a procession through the main street of Dullstroom behind a traditional Scottish Pipe Band. It brought traffic to a stop and got the towns’ attention. It was also lots of fun. After some opening words by Steve from Wild About Whisky and LVMH the official part of the day got underway. Drinking Ardbeg and tasting the special release from Ardbeg. Every year Ardbeg releases a limited-edition whisky to celebrate Ardbeg Day. This year’s release, being a World Cup year, is named Auriverdes
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There was a scrumptious lunch and the South African version of muddy gumboot football. The sun was shining and the atmosphere around the small bar was cheerful and peat filled. We were fortunate to taste the Ardbeg Auriverdes as well as Ardbeg Still Young and Ardbeg Almost There. Ardbeg Still Young is part of a range from Ardbeg exhibiting the effects of age on single malt whisky. Still Young is only 6 yo and the taste was very clean with hints of oak, flowers and lots of spice.
Ardbeg Almost There showed the last stage in the evolution of young cask-strength Ardbeg before it blossomed into the 10 yr-old. This Ardbeg Almost There is a 8 yo with notes of smoke and peat starting to come through. It is more complex than the Still Young and has more body.
The Ardbeg Auriverdes was the star of the show and the reason we went to the tasting. The name Auriverde comes from Portuguese and combines the words auri which means “to make shine like gold” and verde, “green”. Gold and green happen to be both the signature colors of Ardbeg as well as the colors of the Brazilian Flag (Official FIFA 2014 World Cup hosting country). It is unfortunately not available for sale in South Africa. It has been released in the UK only.
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Tasting notes for the Ardbeg Day Auriverdes
This was a real treat as John got to taste a whisky that few ever will. John loves Ardbeg and so was looking forward.
COLOUR: It is quite dark in colour relative to other Ardbegs. The Ardbeg Auriverdes is nice and oily.
NOSE: On the nose it’s a bit different to other Ardbeg expressions. Vanilla and wet leather and the smokiness of Ardbeg comes through. Surprising little peat is evident.
PALATE: On the palate its sweet and smoke. Almost sherried in nature. It’s a big mouthful. There are further notes of vanilla, burnt caramel and charred oak. There is a wonderful smoothness.
FINISH: Spice and caramel. A lingering smoky finish with a few sweet vanilla notes.
Related Article: Ardbeg Auriverdes
This Ardbeg will likely split enthusiasts. Lovers of the classic style may well be disappointed, whilst those who have found Ardbeg a difficult whisky to get into may find an easier introduction. Overall it’s a different type of Ardbeg and one that, over time, could grow on you. We don’t rate whiskies outside of our normal tasting routine, but this one is definitely worth a try if you get the chance.
We had a great time in Dullstroom chatting to other whisky enthusiasts and just relaxing in the autumn country side. If you love whisky and you have not yet visited this quaint little town with the amazing bar, what are you waiting for? It is an amazing experience. And we will be back again.
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