Without touching much the speculations about the new release and its flavours, I must say I find it interesting to see so many different opinions about various Ardbeg releases.
Personally I have found each of the releases very good, if not excellent.
The 10yo is a strong, youthful but not very refined nor subtle version. Especially the original 10yo when it just had come out was a smoky, peaty, 'in-yer-face' Ardbeg, latter ones seemed a bit more tame? When I visited the distillery in 2001, I was informed that some very old Ardbeg, up to 26 years, was used in the vatting when creating this beast. As such the change in flavour with the latter bottlings of this seem logical and follow a certain pattern with Ardbeg: First releases are knockouts, from there on less so.
The 17yo which I know many of my colleagues to have enjoyed enormously, more so than the 10yo, was a dram much more subtle, balanced, and 'soft' in its approach. This version contained some of the Kildalton, I believe, in it. It was quite a sophisticated malt, and as such won fans amongst those who did not perhaps enjoy so much the direct attack of the 10yo. Interestingly I was told in 2001 that the oldest whisky to go in this was 23 years, thus younger than the eldest that went into the 10.
Lord of the Isles, at 25 years, is another good example of the subtle, refined and complex style of Ardbeg. This one has to me very pleasant finesse, and does still deliver the clamor of arms at the end especially.
The 1977 was a powerhouse of peat and smoke and all things Ardbeg. Astonishingly youthfull, it was chosen as whisky of the year in 2001 by Whisky Magazine readers. Amazing dram.
The 1975 was perhaps even better in its balance and aroma.
The 1978 I have not tasted.
The Uigeadail, it seems, has also changed quite a bit during its existence. RMW notes this on their website as well, stating how current release contains more fino- sherry dryness as opposed to the original Uigeadail releases' fantastic (Oloroso?) richness.
So much Ardbeg. In my opinion, great whisky. I do wish that they would maintain the consistency in flavour better - or name the whiskies different once consistency is no longer possible to maintain. It seems a tad unfair now if someone buys Uigeadail, and gets a completely different dram than what Mr. Smith did a year before.