How Does Ardbeg An Oa Compare To Ardbeg 10? Brendan McCarron Explains! – Drink This/Not That

When you take a sip, you’re gonna get more
of those sweet notes, you’re gonna get figs, dates, rum & raisin, maybe? And then right at the
end, the smoke comes back again. And this first expression that we’re gonna
taste tonight, the An Oa, how did this expression come about and is this now part of the permanent
range? Yes, so this was and always has been a permanent release of Ardbeg but I guess there’s
a first time we’ve released a permanent Ardbeg in over 10 years so everyone just kind of assumed
it was a one-off, but it’s very much the the fourth member of our core range and it’s
here to stay. So you had Ardbeg 10, Ardbeg Uigeadail which our, kind of, big sherried version of Ardbeg.
Then you had Ardbeg Corryvreckan made in very small amounts. Quite strongly proofed and, you know, a very
small permanent available whisky, but what we wanted to do is if we’re gonna make the fourth
permanent Ardbeg, there’s quite a leap from Ardbeg 10 up to Uigeadail and Corry because the proofing goes up quite a lot and also Ardbeg 10 is amazing whisky but, it’s quite
challenging. It’s quite a big step if it’s your first step into Ardbeg, you know, you’re
you’re, sort of, first experience is gonna be this massive smoky bomb so what we wanted
to do is make another whisky that sat alongside -Ardbeg 10 for comparing and contrasting, so,
-Mmhmm. The first thing that that told me when I was
getting to work on this whisky, and this was a project that Dr. Bill gave me to, you know, run with.
So that answers the first question, how’s it going to be proofed? So it has to be proved very
similar to Ardbeg 10 and it is. So Ardbeg is 92 and that’s one is 93.2, so it’s just
a tiny little degree higher in alcohol, it’s an… it’s made out quite a lot cast so there’s
a lot of new charred oak casks, so they’re big and flavorful, very rich, active wood which adds
flavor. It adds a little, sort of vanilla creaminess, but most importantly it doesn’t. hide the smoke. So it’s still just… it elevates
this big smokiness of Ardbeg. There’s quite a lot of Ardbeg that is, you know, kind of
Ardbeg 10 style, so it’s Ardbeg in ex-bourbon casks and then there’s another big, punchy
cask going in a different direction from the virgin oak and that’s Ardbeg fully matured in Pedro Jimenez. So Pedro Jimenez gives some raisin sweetness, gives a little bit of coffee and chocolate
and so what you end up with, Ardbeg An Oa, which is named after a peninsula on Islay, just this
rounded, but rugged peninsula in the southwest corner of Islay, you end up with, like a, smokier, sweeter, more rounded version of Ardbeg so… I mean, first nose, you should again an initial spring of smokiness but then it’s quickly sort of intertwined with all this sweetness some
sort of butterscotch, something like coffee. I’m getting, like, a nicely toasted
piece of bread. Like a well toasted… Yeah yeah yeah. And butter on it, you know, like a nice, deep
toast with some butter, but then, like, grilled bell pepper, and like a raspberries syrup.
There’s this, like, dark red note in there as well. When you take a sip, you’re going to get more of those sweet notes, you’re going to get figs, dates, rum and raisin, maybe and then right
at the end, the smoke comes back again. There’s a bit of saltiness, there’s a bit of charred wood,
little bit of spice as well, some star anise or something like that, sweet spaces. Wow, that is awesome! prickly pear, dark chocolate.
Yeah, like, tobacco even, and coffee. It’s quite creamy as well. -Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
-Very creamy whisky. It’s got this roundness to it, like Travis is saying. So, when we made this whisky, right
at the 11th hour, Bill was like, “It’s great, but there’s just something missing,” and what you thought
about was sometimes, very rarely, but sometimes whisky changes when it’s in the bottle. Companta, Glenmorangie Companta was a prime example. And since we… sorry, I’m talking generical here, but
the more Ingredients a whisky has, the more likely it is to just need a little bit of time
for these ingredients to all just, kind of, integrate. So with Ardbeg An Oa, once we’ve made the
Batch, we built a large wooden marrying vat just to leave the Ardbeg in, and it just sits
there, the wood isn’t active, so just sits there and it kind of breathes, you know? The
air comes in and out, so over these three months, it just means that the whisky starts to
just tie together. You get that creaminess, you get a little bit of roundness. Evaporative condensation causing
those molecules to bond and create those long, lingering flavors. How much is the An Oa? Yeah so the An Oa is priced just a few dollars premium to Ardbeg ten year old And the international whisky challenge,
the IWC awards, this year, An Oa just won Best Islay single malt scotch and Best Non-Aged single
Malts Scotch as well. So two big awards for it which is great to hear. Well I’m a huge Ardbeg 10 lover. I love an Ardbeg
10 and, like, a good pilsner and that to me… I don’t need a cocktail, like, those two
things will compliment each other beautifully for me, but I can see how this would be, like…
For a beginner, kind of entering into the world of smoky scotches,
it’s so rich and sweet and, like, easy to love Ardbeg 10 can be a little bit like standoff-ish
-In your face? Yeah, like, this is much more rounded and full and kind of just easy to love. Sure, yeah, it’s a great whisky, you know,
and these awards are, kind of, backing that up and, as I see it,
it’s very well priced. People are used to, like, our one off limited edition Ardbegs coming
out, but this here to stay. You’ll find it everywhere and it’s, you know, we’re really proud of it.
we’re really proud of what it’s come out like. The, kind of, the flavor profiles
that you guys create, these limited… I mean, this is now part of the permanent collection, but in order to sustain it, how many barrels go into a bottling batch? So, it varies. It varies. It’ll always be the same proportions of virgin oak, Ardbeg in ex-bourbon, and also
Ardbeg in Pedro Jiminez, but I would say roughly speaking, so casks, because
these are all different types of sizes Different sizes barrels ::thinks:: Something like 50 or 60 casks will be combined
to make a batch. Really, really small batches so that means your job, as you’re in the the
smelling lab, -Yeah, yeah
-You’re constantly kind of figuring out those different configurations
of barrels for different bottling batches Yeah yeah yeah, so we’ll be sampling casks all the time, we’ll also have… we always sample our spirits, and we buy our cast from a very limit of suppliers for consistency so we have a good idea and then David, who works for me, is going to look
through the system and work out where the casks physically are and then we’ll get you know, 15%, 20%, say new charred oak, 20%, 25% Pedro Jiminez and we’ll get them
pulled in and then we’ll get some ex-bourbon and the guys who are physically doing that
on the island will be open in the bong’s nosing them, we’ll get some samples sent over and
we’ll make up small bench blends of whiskies then we’ll combine it all when we’re good to
go, bring that all together into this marrying vat and then we’ll sample it once a month,
and on the third month, we have, always like a perfect benchmark of Ardbeg An Oa and all
of our other whiskies, and you’ll pour one glass as the benchmark and then you pour another
glass as your new batch of Ardbeg An Oa, check the colors, colors going to really help you, you know, it’s not the be all, end all, but if
they’re very different in color, you know something’s gone wrong. They’re probably going to taste very different. And it’s definitely going to taste different, yeah, but then you just nose, nose, taste, taste and so we dilute it to all
the way down to 40 proof and when… they’ll never be exactly the same like, this is really
important, you know, whisky is not made in a, you know, a factory to, you know, a specification,
right? They’re all living products of distilled and then matured… there’s all these
natural little variations, but you want to be very close and then once we’ve got it close
enough, we’ll approve and we’ll send out for bottling.

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