Whisky Advocate

Review: Ardbeg Corryvreckan

August 30th, 2009

Yes, this is the whisky that is replacing Airigh Nam Beist. I was asked to wait until now to let the word out officially, but it has been known unofficially by many already over the past few months on various blogs, etc. This is a great whisky!

(Updated: For those of you who have asked if this is the same whisky as the original “Committee” release last year, according to Dr. Bill Lumsden, whiskymaker, this new release is the same whisky, but one year older.)

Ardbeg Corryvreckan, 57.1%, $85
Powerful, muscular, well-textured, and invigorating. Even within the realm of Ardbeg, this one stands out. The more aggressive notes of coal tar, damp kiln, anise and smoked seaweed are supported by an array of fruit (black raspberry, black cherry, plum), dark chocolate, espresso, molasses, bacon fat, kalamata olive, and warming cinnamon on the finish. Quite stunning!

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 96

40 Responses to “Review: Ardbeg Corryvreckan”

  1. Bomber says:

    Wonderful malt. My “go to” Arbeg has been “Uggie” and this blows it away. I wish it were available in the US.

  2. John Hansell says:

    Bomber, beginning this fall, it will be! That’s the news I was ask to hold off on blogging until our new issue mailed. I received my copy in the mail yesterday, so I went and posted up this review.

  3. I can’t agree more with this review. It has been my favorite Ardbeg (of any recent releases) and it tromps every other newbie I have tasted on all fronts.

    I hope it will be made regularly available in Europe as well. Only one bottle of the Committee release is just not enough…

  4. Jon W says:

    This is good news. The Beist was a hit or miss bottle for me (although enough of a hit where I will stock up on a few if the price is right). I was fortunate enough to get a bottle of the original Corryvreckan, which was phenomanal.

    Are there any differences between the committee release and the general release?

  5. Tim P. says:

    Nice review John, and $85 sounds a little better than the £70 I heard reported for the UK.

  6. John , $85 (£52) is a fair price for the Corryvreckan , unlike the £70 we’ve been quoted on the TWE Blog for the UK . I’m now hoping that the price quoted is wrong and not as i feared MHUK taking the michael !
    If it is £70 i for one will not be buying the Corryvreckan especially as it seems it’s going to be cheaper elsewhere…..

  7. bgulien says:

    If it’s the same as the original committee bottling, this is one of the very best.
    Although I mourn the passing of the Beast.
    the 2006 and 2008 bottling where awesome. The 2007 somewhat less.

  8. Barry J says:

    I just reread Mr TH’s post under another subject here and I just had to make a comment.

    “… I look at other enthusiasts’ exuberance with a cynical eye, and snort at the newbies who are all atwitter over Islay, as I was some years ago. Intolerant of me…”

    It’s funny, how as you explore the ranges of scotch, your tastes tend to evolve. I like how MrTH puts it “atwitter over Islay”….and it’s exactly how I am these days. Even as I type, I have a glass of Caol Ila in hand, had you told me that I would be drinking this a year of ago, I would have told you were nuts. The range of Islay has opened a whole new world for me. I remember when I first started drinking scotch, the Aberlour 12 year was my favorite. My friend that owns a comedy club offered to stock it for me….but of course he’s as deaf as they come…so when I said “Aberlour”, he heard something totally different. So, that first day I came to the club and ordered a Whisk(e)y, he poured my dram…stood there with a big smile..as I put a Ardbeg 10 year old to my lips. I suppose back then, my eyes did a 360, expecting a WHOLE different experience. It’s a good thing we don’t have kids and are spending the college fund..me, on these jewels of Islay.

  9. John Hansell says:

    Barry J, I have a daughter going to college in one year, so I hear what you’re saying.

  10. Hi John,

    I totally agree with your tasting notes and your rating, this is a great Ardbeg. To my mind there are also a lot of citrussy notes, especially kumquat – like a cooked kumquat in a kiln would be even more precise !

    Partly aged in new oak casks, I find it quite far from 2009 Feis Ile bottlings : 1998 Toasted Oak.

  11. Tim F says:

    Hi John, Gordon et al,

    The preview info I was given said RRP was going to be £69.99. However, at TWE we have a strict ratio we apply to work out price, so we may not charge the full RRP. However, RRPs themselves can also change. When I first tried the Laphroiag 18yo in March, I ewas told that the RRP would be £50. Two months later when it came out it was £70 :(.

    I think this Corryvreckan is a great whisky, I don’t think I would put it quite as high as 96, but certainly in the 90s. I agree with Alexandre, I found a lot of citrus on it as well, as I said in my blog. It’s also worth pointing out that it’s not exactly the same as the Committee bottling from last year – I think it’s better.

  12. John Hansell says:

    Tim F, Thanks for the input. Interestingly, I specifically asked my Ardbeg contact here in the US if the whisky was the same stuff as the Committee bottling and she said it was. I will go back and ask again. And I’ll reconfirm the price too and report back.

  13. B.J. Reed says:

    I love Corryvreckan and am excited to hear its coming to the U.S. – Of course now my committee bottling is not as sacred as it once was :)

  14. John Hansell says:

    BJ, What’s the ABV of the Committee bottling? Is it the same as the new bottling? (57.1%)

  15. William Meyers says:

    Dear John,
    I too really enjoyed the Committee release & I’m very excited to see this coming to the States!
    Perhaps we’ll see some single casks in the US, priced around the Balvenie Vintage Single Cask releases?

    Cheers,
    Bill

  16. Quentin says:

    I’ve not tried this one yet, but looking forward to it. My favorite has always been the Uigeadail. The Beast is a fickle beast, I find (or maybe it’s just me being fickle).

  17. Leorin says:

    So what I expected for a long time is going to happen. By the End of this year the regular Ardbeg Ten will be the oldest malt within the Ardbeg range. The LotI has already “left the Island”, and stocks of the ANB and Renaissance will be gone by the end of this year. A new expression with an age statement is not in sight. Am I the only one that’s a little concerned about this developement?

  18. B.J. Reed says:

    Yes, same as the new bottling – 57.1

  19. David S. says:

    Leorin – This just reflects the lack of production from 1981-1989 (someone correct me if i’m off) and then ramping up for some time after that. The lack of older Ardbeg is just a fact that the distillery and consumers must work with.

  20. Tim F says:

    57.1 is not a fluke cask strength – it’s 100 British proof.

    I don’t believee that this can be the same as last year’s bottling. It doesn’t seem practical to make up an enormous batch of something and then keep it for over a year before releasing it. There would be difficult, expensive storage issues. And what if the Committee bottling hadn’t been such a success? My guess is that the Committee bottling was a trial batch (it was quite a large release in itself) and that this release is a new version made the same way.

  21. Leorin says:

    @davidS.- I know that Ardbeg cannot release older standard bottlings at the moment, as they lack matured casks because of the production gap. I’m just surprised that nobody seems to care about that. But I just think it’s very odd that soon their oldest regular expression will also be the cheapest within the Ardbeg portfolio. Even if I seem to be the only one who feels this way, I think this is simply insane!

    @TimF.- I agree, the upcomming Corryvreckan will be a malt that is different from last years committee release

  22. […] tasting notes from John Hansell, who scores Corryvreckan a […]

  23. patrick says:

    @tim
    According to your blog, they used Burgundy for the new corryvreckan?
    For the committee, I was told it was Bordeaux (Claret).

    The comparison between the two will be interesting.
    However, I am suprised by the difference in price between US ($85) and UK (£70)

  24. John M says:

    This might be the best Ardbeg I’ve tried, the Committee bottling, that is. Still some left in mine, so I won’t be buying more at the €80 mark.

  25. John Hansell says:

    Tim F, and everyone else: Here’s the scoop on this release of Corry vs. the original Committee bottling. This is from Bill Lumsden, via Ardbeg’s importer:

    “The recipe for the current bottlings is essentially the same as for the original, Committee release, although 1 year on, it is obviously not from exactly the same batch.”

    So, it looks like it is the same juice as the Committee bottling, but just one year older. I edited my original post to reflect this.

  26. Tim F says:

    Cheers for clearing that up, John – I was pretty sure it couldn’t be the same batch. In this case it seems like the sequel is better than the original :)

  27. Euan says:

    This is welcome news, particularly if it is priced as noted. And what is the “recipe”? I’d love to hear the details of how this was done. Buffalo Trace provides these sort of details down to the mash bill and warehouse location and number of casks per batch. I enjoyed the Corry committee release from a taste from a bottle of a friend of a friend. but I missed the boat on getting a bottle of my own, it was just too much trouble to get one living in the US. This will be a worthy successor for the Beist. Regarding the scarcity of older Ardbeg – peat freaks miss those days between 1999 and 2003 when Old Malt Cask released one stunning single cask 1970s vintage Ardbeg after another at sub-Provenance prices.

  28. John Hansell says:

    Tim, you were right. The info I received from the importer was incorrect. Here’s the scoop, DIRECTLY from Bill Lumsden:

    The new Ardbeg Corryvrecken is a different batch than “Committee” bottling. Committee bottling was aged in more 1st fill French oak: more “leathery bite” as Bill describes it. This whisky was “cut with” first fill and refill bourbon casks.

    Sorry for the bad information.

  29. […] order it for delivery, there are some Ardbeg Outposts that will let us pick up a bottle.  This is the dram that Hansell gave a 96 to.  Color me excited.  Though I guess this means that the Beastie is really dwindling down. Share […]

  30. Euan says:

    Hi John, did Dr Bill provide any further details on the Corryvreckan recipe? I’ve been drinking the Corryvreckan US release for several weeks and I love it. Did any Supernova stocks make it into this batch, or any unusual experimental casks?

  31. John Hansell says:

    Euan, he did in my interview with him here. No Supernova, but French Oak casks.

  32. Mitch says:

    I just picked up a bottle of this and tried it last night. It was outstanding! The best Whiskey I have ever tasted. Interesting to note that it’s $85 and the other two Single Malt Scotch whiskeys with the same 96 rating are > $4,000. I’m going to get a second bottle! Have never experienced anything like this.

  33. Sergey says:

    btw Does anyone have idea where I can buy a bottle of Corry now?
    Looks like it disappeared from everywhere in the US.

    • mongo says:

      on winesearcher (http://www.wine-searcher.com) i only see it at two places in michigan and one place in florida (none of which ship out of state). it never even came to minnesota (that i know of).

    • Josh West says:

      Sergey,

      It did indeed disappear for a while but seems to have found its way back to the US this month — at least in Massachusetts. *sip* :-)

      • mongo says:

        yes, a lot of stores in california now have it in the $80 range. i bought one from k&l in august when i was in los angeles. still hasn’t got to minnesota.

        (a truly great whisky)

  34. Fred Keller says:

    It’s in Minnesota now, thank goodness! I’m looking forward to uncorking one of the two bottles I purchased at Zipps Liquor, Minneapolis, last night. Ardbeg’s many bottlings have long been favorites of mine (along with Longrow and Laphroig) and this looks to claim the place of honor. Let’s see if I can wait until after noon ;).

  35. Mark Warner says:

    Just thought I’d pop in here and let you know what we pay for this stuff in Canada. I just picked up a bottle at the LCBO in Ottawa for $179.95CAD, which at today’s exchange rates is £114.60.

    I thought it was a bit pricey, but if it turns out to be as good as you fellows say it is, it’s money well spent! Slainte!

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