Legendary Islay whisky distillery Ardbeg, noted for producing one of the world's peatiest Scotches, has come out with its darkest, smokiest single malt ever.
The limited edition Dark Cove is a tribute to the rocky coast where the historic distillery is situated, and which was a haven for whisky smugglers who used its hidden caves and secret beaches to traffic in illegal spirit before Ardbeg was established in 1815.
This "dark past" inspired the exceptional new expression, which is the darkest whisky Ardbeg has ever made. It's the product of a "clandestine meeting" of whisky matured in ex-Bourbon casks and a "heart" matured in dark sherry casks, a double dose of wood that imparts intense flavor.
Only 1100 cases of the precious spirit, bottled at 93 proof, will be released worldwide on May 28. Nosing the whisky reveals an earthy, spicy bouquet with bold notes of dark chocolate rising above orange, treacle, toffee, coffee and oak, plus wafts of a smoky bonfire – like the one used by the smugglers to signal boats – and a hint of flowering blackcurrant bushes.
The mouthfeel is almost tart at first with raisins, dates, ginger and peppery spice surging forward to be replaced by smoldering charcoal, wood and "huge, tarry creosote" notes – the remains of the blaze.
The finish is long, spicy and rich with lingering notes of toffee, coffee and tar. In other words, it's a single-malt worth a sip.