Ardbeg An Oa – Glassful of Smoke

a bottle of smoke

Ardbeg makes some of my favorite scotches, solidly among my top 4 or 5 — let’s see, I suppose now’s a good time to list my favorites:

  1. Highland Park 18 year
  2. Oban 14 year
  3. Lagavulin 16 year
  4. Highland Park Magnus
  5. Singleton Single Malt
  6. Ardbeg 10 year

OK, solidly in my top 6, then. Anyway, I don’t buy myself scotches very often, in fact, nearly never. Sadly, they’re a luxury I can rarely afford. Singleton is decent for modest price, as is Magnus. But when I saw this Ardbeg on sale at my local state-run liquor store (don’t think I’ll ever get used to that aspect of Oregon), I was intrigued. Like the Magnus, it’s a scotch blended of various ages (when I read that, I can’t help but wonder if Ardbeg and Highland Park just kind of pour out the dregs of their various barrels into one big one like a whisky “suicide” to sell as their An Oa and Magnus….) and I like Magnus, so why not give this a try.

A bit more than I wanted to spend, but I felt it wasn’t much of a risk. And indeed, it ended up being a pretty solid decision. It’s, with one notable exception, a very well-rounded and balanced scotch. Just complex enough to be interesting, but not a challenge to drink or enjoy. The one exception being the smokiness. Usually, especially with the Islay scotches, the smokiness is balanced by the . . . grassy-nutty peatyness. But in the An Oa, it’s smoke forward, smoke finish, smoke for days. There’s nothing else to match, challenge, or temper it.

That said, it’s a very fine, enjoyable scotch, perhaps perfect if you’re sitting around a campfire where you’re already getting a snootfull of smoke and won’t notice it in your drink. I know some people will jeer (but the way I see it, do with your whiskys what you want to enjoy it) I enjoy this with a half an ice cube added.

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