This week I had an interesting experience:
I was out of town traveling with a friend, and a friend of his recommended a whisky bar that he though I might find interesting. Being a huge Islay fan, I was pretty sure that a bottle of the Beastie was coming back home with me and hoped that they might have one in the bar to try.
They had a pretty solid selection (a few hundred open bottles) and while there I discovered that they had a decent selection of Ardbegs. They had the Ten, the Oogie, a bottle of the 17 and yes, the Beastie. On the back wall, I also discovered something pretty cool - a partially consumed bottle of 1974 Ardbeg Provenence (24 yr old, bottled in 1998)! Can you tell I was excited?!
Owning both the Oogie and the Ten, I immediately ordered snifters of the 17, the Beastie and the Provenence all of which I had never tried before.
Now this was a bar, the bottles were opened (who knows how long - obviously the Beastie quite recently, but I don't know about the 17 or the Provenence) and there's all that stuff that goes along with "trying" whisky in a bar. What I found was this:
The Beast was almost anemic - before trying it, I was absolutely positive that I was going to buy a bottle of this to bring home (still probably will at some point), but I ended up buying another Laphroaig 15, a Laphroaig 30, a Bruichladdich Moine Mhor and a bottle of the wonderfully oily and luscious Herencia Anejo tequila
(just for the Tequila lovers here)
So, I'm still undecided on the beastie. It's not cheap (about $110-120 USD) and for that cost I can get two more Laphroaig 15s, or even another Laga 12CS or an Oogie. So, do I buy it because I love Ardbeg, or do I pass? Or do I buy it hoping that in 10 years it will be worth a bit more? It's not Provenence - that's for sure!
The 17: definitely very very tasty, but totally different than other Ardbegs - not the peat punch that I know. a great whisky, but one that requires a totally different mood than say - Oogie. a snifter of this was the same cost as the Provenence at the bar and for my money, I would definitely choose...
The Provenence. Like I said, I have no idea how long ago this bottle was opened; it was about 3/4 consumed as well. However, all I can say is simply: WOW. This lived up to the hype. It is probably the best whisky that I've ever had (not that I'm that experienced
but still, it was unbelievably good; now, where to find bottles of this...
I went back the next night and had this again, just to make sure it was as amazing as I thought the night before (of course it was). I was even tempted to go back a third time and finish off the bottle, but a rather large amount of sushi, sake and a couple large Kirin lagers ended the third trip prematurely! Unfortunately I flew out the next morning
How to describe this? I really can't apart from saying it was pretty much everything that I had thought that it would be after reading so much about this. It just did everything right.
So, anyway, I was undecided on the Beastie. Like I said, I'm sure that at some point I'll grab a bottle of this just cause it's Ardbeg and Ardbeg is cool. However, it (unfortunately) has proved harder to commit to buying this bottle than I thought it would (unlike Oogie, Laga 12cs or the various killer Laphroaigs - QC, 15, 30 - for example). I think I would be happier with a couple of Laph 15s instead; or maybe just buying Johnnie Walker Black for the next year or so, so that I could save up 800-1000 $ for a bottle of the Provenence! LOL