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Old Malt Cask Ardbeg

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Old Malt Cask Ardbeg

Postby Bulkington » Tue Oct 31, 2006 4:10 pm

Hi, all. Question for you.

In Murray's 2006 Whisky Bible he gushes over the following Old Malt Cask bottling of Ardbeg:

Old Malt Cask Ardbeg 12 Years Old , Rum Finish. dist 1 Oct 92, bott 14 Oct 04 (95) n24 dry, with the peat showing signs of pre-78 depth and complexity. Toasty and alluring; t24 quite fabulous arrival of what would be ultra dry oak and peat were it not for the mouthwatering, saliva-gushing imput of the barley; lovely fruits and even nut in the form of semi-dry Danish marzipan; f22 long, pulsing peat of a once-lost style wth so many enormous sub-plots of bitter-sweet, fruity complexity; b 25 those lucky buggers in downtown Manhattan! If Park Avenue have any bottles left, beat a path to their shelves as soon as your read this and get as many as you can afford. This is a rum finish cask, and although the rum is hardly noticeable, perhaps it is this that has somehow miraculously re-created Ardbeg in its prime during the mid 70s The dryness anddepth of the malt are unlike any other Ardbeg from the early 90s I have come across. Simply one of those bottlings you just have to buy and open for those special, reflective moments of your life. Glorious! 50% Douglas Lang & Co. For Park Ave. Liquor.

Now, currently Astor Wine in New York has a number of bottles of Old Malt Cask Ardbeg that answer to the above description in most every way. It does not state Rum Finish, rather it says that it was aged in "refill hogshead" casks. Same difference or no? It says that the scotch was distilled in Oct. 92 and bottled in Oct. 04, but does not give the more precise dates that Murray does. It is 50%. It does not say that it was bottled for Park Ave. Liquor, but would it? Murray does not mention how many bottles this expression was limited to, and I don't remember and don't have the bottle with me here at work, but it's less than 400 I believe. Maybe it's the power of suggestion, but Murray's description (the substance, not the ratings) seems more or less to approximate my experience tasting this scotch, and I think I can dedect the feint presence of rum--but, again, would I have if I didn't have Murray to tell me it's there? Obviously one of the chief questions is, if this is the scotch Murray describes, how did Astor get a hold of it, exp. given its having been bottled for Park Ave. Liquor? And even if not, given the limited quantity, where were these bottles sitting through 2005 until late 2006? Very strange. Or maybe not?


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Postby Lawrence » Tue Oct 31, 2006 4:20 pm

Have you asked Astor?
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Postby Bulkington » Tue Oct 31, 2006 4:44 pm

No, not yet. When I got a bottle for myself last week I didn't have time to ask, and then over the weekend the guy working the whisky only knew that their buyer located the stuff somewhere.

I'm going down there tomorrow to get another bottle and see what more I can learn.
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Postby BruceCrichton » Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:07 pm

if it says refilll hogshead, that's what it will be.

Any finishes will be clearly marked on a Douglas Laing bottle
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Postby adossantos » Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:16 pm

It is my understanding that a hogshead refers to a cask size. If a label states "refill hogshead", does that imply that it previously held either sherry or bourbon? If so, which?
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Postby Ardbeg311 » Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:46 pm

This probably will only add to the confusion here, but according to the picture of a label found at ... ort=direkt there was a DL Ardbeg 12yo 'Rum Finish' that was distilled in March 1992 and bottled in March 2004. There were 261 bottles of this whisky "selected by and exclusively bottled for Park Avenue Liquor Shop."

I was not aware that there was another Rum Finish Ardbeg bottled for Park Ave, but there might have been.
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Postby Bulkington » Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:55 pm

Wow, thanks for the link. That does sort of clear things up, actually. I've been told that the batch wasn't necessarily limited to the exclusive bottling, but obviously the information on the label here, the dist. and bottling dates aside, are exactly as Murray describes it.

I will give the label a more thorough examination tonight.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Nov 01, 2006 8:22 am

This was a pretty well-known bottling exclusive to Park Ave--a single cask, I believe.

Hogsheads will generally be rebuilt bourbon casks. If I remember right (an increasingly dodgy proposition as the birthdays accrue), the standard bourbon barrel is 200 liters, and for some reason it is common for Scottish coopers to rebuild them to 250 liter hogsheads, which seems like an awful lot of work to me. Indeed, I was told at Balvenie (one of the few distilleries, if not the only, with their own cooperage) that they no longer bother. Sherry casks are generally 500-liter butts.

If I have any of this wrong, I am sure one of the illustrious members will set us straight.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Wed Nov 01, 2006 8:37 am

I've tasted it and it was very good!
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Postby Di Blasi » Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:00 pm

The bottle from Astor was something else Douglas Laing did, but not sure if it was only for Astor or for everyone. Speak with Warren at Astor, the spirits buyer and a great, knowleadeable whisky guy! (Tell him Jonathan in Bergen, Norway says hi!!) He'll know best. Park Avenue bought that rum finished (7 months) Ardbeg cask from Douglas Laing, and it is excellent, thus they put their name on the label! I know Astor does the same, but not sure if they put such a large notice on the front label like that one for Park Avenure Liquors.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:16 pm

DL had an Ardbeg with a rum finish at Whisky Live in Glasgow. From memory, the rum finish was very hard to spot on the label - might even have been on the back. I'm afraid I didn't try it so I can't vouch for it - but others were praising it from the high heavens.
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Postby Bulkington » Wed Nov 01, 2006 3:08 pm

Well obviously my bottle is nothing like the one Murray describes, save for the general dist and bott dates. To be more specific, mine reads: "A BOTTLING OF ONE CASK DL REF 1560 REFILL HOGSHEAD"--which doesn'st mean much to me. I've been told that, given the color (see the image of Serendipity at the Ardgeb site, but mine's maybe clearer and cleaner looking), it was probably aged in a bourbon cask. There's a feint sharpness in the sweetness beneath the peat that I thought might be rum. Whatever. It's very good all the same. Sorry for my confusion. . . .
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Nov 01, 2006 5:07 pm

"Refill hogshead" means simply a bourbon barrel that has been filled with Scotch whisky more than once. Probably second fill, perfectly good. Douglas Laing does not sell substandard stuff. If a rum cask were involved, it would likely say--it's a selling point, why wouldn't they want you to know? The rum finishes I've had have all had a peculiarly minty taste. The synergy of wood is an extraordinary thing, and I think we are still in the early days of experimentation with finishes (which I'm just certain delights some of you no end! :roll: ). Naturally, some will be more successful than others, and that success will be very much a matter of taste.
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Postby Lawrence » Thu Nov 02, 2006 2:07 am

The rum finishes I've had have all had a peculiarly minty taste

That's an interesting comment, I must look for that next time I have rum influenced whisky.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Nov 02, 2006 2:10 am

Or maybe it's because I just brushed my teeth! I actually can't say I've had a lot of them, in any case.
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Postby Admiral » Thu Nov 02, 2006 3:33 am

Hi Mr T,

(My, it seems like a year since we last conversed! :cry: Actually, it almost has been!)

Just further to your comments about the source and origin of hogsheads, I recently wrote an article for a publication on how different casks influence whiskies in different ways. Below are two excerpts from my article which are relevant to this discussion: (Bold type added for relevance)

"The other feature of a cask that affects maturation is its size.
As a general rule, smaller casks will mature whisky faster
than larger casks. American casks, known as “Barrels” hold
200 litres. The next size is a “Hogshead,” which holds 250
litres. Whilst hogsheads traditionally came straight from
Spain, it is now quite common for barrels from the US to be
converted into hogsheads in Scotland by replacing the ends
with larger diameter heads.
A “Butt” – always from Spain –
holds 500 litres, and “Gordas” and “Puncheons” have similar

and in relation to whether the cask's original filling was bourbon or sherry:

"So how can you tell which is which? Descriptions of the cask on the label or an author's tasting notes occasionally give a clue: Anything from a butt, gorda, or puncheon will be ex-sherry, whereas anything described as a barrel will be ex-bourbon. Hogsheads (sometimes referred to
as a “hoggie”) can be either, so look for other descriptors or clues that may hint as to its origin.
Or of course, you could always rely on your tastebuds!"

Hope this assists.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Nov 02, 2006 3:51 am

Excellent, thank you. I'd bet that the vast majority of hogsheads are bourbon--but then, the majority of all barrels is bourbon, isn't it? Generally, one would expect that sherry casks would be specified, but common sense can be terribly affected by minor local fluctuations in the gravitational field, can't it? I mean, why specify on a label "aged in oak casks"? D'oh!
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Postby micheluzzo » Thu Nov 02, 2006 2:57 pm


there was also a Ardbeg rum finish for Japan:
Ardbeg, Douglas Laing, 54,8%, 12yrs, 05.90/09.02, 331 bottles for Speyside Way Bar. This one was smoother and sweeter than the other ones with the same age.
I think it was the first one ever.
This one for Park Avenue Shop is a little rougher.
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Postby The Dazzler » Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:17 pm


This is the problem with reviews on independant bottles. Jim does really well where in most cases he is stating dates of when the whisky was bottled and distilled etc, but with other reviews these details can be lost. Independant bottlers however may well bottle several single casks of the same whiky ie, Ardbeg 12yo. This is where reviews should be defining exact details of each whisky.

Douglas Laing do state all relevant details on their bottles. If the whisky has been finished in a different type of wood this will be indicated in a circle to the top right on the label. Another way of finding the differences in Douglas Laing bottles is that they always state how many bottles were bottled from the single cask, (all OMC and Platinum range that is). This makes each batch of bottles different.

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