Deepest gold color. Rich and weighty with heady and smoky aromatics. At full strength, the initial aroma is a beguiling mix of warm Christmas cake, walnut oil and parma violets fused with fresh ocean spice, cedar and pine needles falling from the Christmas tree. A smouldering coal fire and the scent of well-oiled leather brings warmth. The sweetness of treacle toffees and chocolate-coated raisins emerge through the smoke. With water, the deep smokiness increases in intensity, reminiscent of a fired Christmas pudding. Rich flowering currants and warm baked banana and walnut bread are served with simmering mocha espresso. Full flavoured and rich with a deep mouth-coating texture, the taste is an intriguing balance between sweet, spicy and deep smoky flavours. The flavour is initially sweet. A burst of winter spices sets off a smoky-spicy explosion countered by a sumptuous mid-palate of honey glazed smoked food and chewy treacle. Waves of deep smoky tones and rich aromas build up on the palate like a fine Montecristo cigar. Amazingly long and chewy with lingering raisiny, deep mocha tones and rich aromatic smoke into the perfectly integrated finish.
Dark amber color and brooding, smoky scent. Although intense peat is characteristic of Islay Scotches and Ardbeg in particular, here the smoke goes too far. It starts with lovely vanilla, brine and light smoke, but the peat party simply goes on far too long. Adding water softens the feel of this cask-strength Scotch, but does nothing to dampen the smoke.