According to my reading, Ardbeg Uigeadal (‘oog-a-dal’) was created to find a use for some old sherry-casked whisky found in a back corner of the warehouse. It was added to much younger bourbon-casked Ardbeg, and released to great acclaim. Several aficionados I know call Uigeadal their favorite Scotch – but many reviewers think more recent bottlings of this expression have lost something crucial. Namely, the sherried component isn’t as old as it once was (there’s no age statement on the bottle), sacrificing complexity.
I came to the party only recently, and have no idea what Uigeadal used to taste like. Although I’m a big fan of Islay malts, I think Ardbeg 10 isn’t as rich as Lagavulin 16 or as in-your-face as Laphroaig 10. For me, Uigeadal was love at first sip. It exploded onto my palate and made my hair stand up (not just because I didn’t know it’s bottled at 54.2% ABV.) It swirls through your mouth, alternately smoky and sweet, before finishing sweet, gentle with lilting honey overtones, the briny peat bomb a pleasant memory. Finishing that first dram, I felt like a kid after a roller coaster – I wanted to ride again.