Continuing our informal 'peat month', in which we've seen reviews of Ardbeg Supernova, Bruichladdich Octomore and 'Futures' - we bring you the 4th installment in our peated odyssey - AR1 from Speciality Drink's 'Elements Of Islay' range.
For those of you who aren't familiar with these bottling's, they have set the bench mark in innovative bottle design, with their simple but effective labels, mimicking the type you would see on a chemists shelf, far from the traditionally stocked shelves of the local whisky merchant.
But design aside- is the whisky any good? Supernova was a head-and-heart warming dram and put a smile on our faces. Octomore was a brash and stupendously peaty whisky, but lacked the refinements to make it a seriously great drinker. The Octomore Futures faired much better with refreshing floral and fruit elements.
The strength of the AR1 is practically identical to the the Supernova at 58.7% so we have high hopes it will also retain a similar, yet rich mouth feel...
Ardbeg AR1 - Elements Of Islay range - 58.7% - 50cl
Nose: Butter butter and more butter, with a side order of butterscotch. Like the Supernova, there is some initial banana notes (Nesquik milkshake mix), Werther's Original's and sweet marzipan. With a little water, the glass gives you an almost gas fire warming note and hints of medicinal bandages.
Palate: The mouth feel is immediately hot and hugely powerful, with dominating notes of anise, spearmint and chillies. With the addition of water, more delicate cereal notes come through, which blend extremely well with a wonderful sweet peat. The water also gives you a superb rich quality, which is very similar to the Supernova.
Finish: There is a lingering swimming pool note which prevails alongside the peat. Very long and bold, certainly youthful, but nonetheless enjoyable.
Overall: This is the first bottling from the Elements Of Islay range I have tasted and it was a really enjoyable dram. It has a youthful quality which is brash at times, but the superbly rich mouth feel gives it a definite edge of classiness. Stay tuned for tasting notes on the other bottlings from Caol Ila and Laphroaig.