Can you call an Ardbeg subtle? probably not, but by Ardbeg standards this one is not the big, dark and punchy flavour you might expect.
That's not to say it isn't there though. There are some real characterful moments the whole time but they need to be looked for on a deeper level than you might be used to with this gorgeous Islay distillery.
Am I glad I tried it? Absolutely. Would I buy a bottle? Quite happily. Would I pay over retail price for it? Maybe not.
Subtler than expected with a touch of wine fruityness and a light smoked ham note. Nary a hint of higher alcohol or even that big Ardbeg smoke you might expect.
Beautiful and smooth, an oily mouthfeel coats your whole tongue before a touch of rich red grapes come in to play with a smoke that is building and building from the moment it lands in your mouth.
And then here it is. Ardbeg in all its glory comes marching along, beating its chest with big smoke, leather and spice. But then, somewhat strangely for a high strength Ardbeg, it is all over before you have time to register whats happened.