Drink Magazine

Tasting Notes: Ardbeg: Drum (Standard Release)

By Alcoholandaphorisms

Tasting Notes:  Ardbeg: Drum (Standard Release)

Ardbeg: Drum (Standard Release) (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale, slightly darkened grain color. A mix of fast thick streaks, and then slower streaks follow up from the spirit.

Nose: Pineapple. Brine. Salty rocks. Dry smoke. Quite strong alcohol. Fish skins. Moss. Brown bread. Burnt sugar. Water adds sea breeze. Smoother but still present alcohol.

Body: Slightly medicinal. Dry smoke. Subtle banana liqueur. Cherries and sultanas. Dry sherry trifle. Banana bread. Slightly waxy. Warming spice. Water adds clearer banana and waxy banana leaves. Clearer dark fruit. Turmeric and lightly earthy notes. Slight apple.

Finish: Smoke. Dried beef slices. Malt chocolate. Slight spices. Dry sherry. Raisins. Subtle dried banana. Waxy sheen. Water adds spicy rum and light peppery character.

Conclusion: Ok, so I loved the committee release version of this. How does this, more restrained abv, release compare? Well, obviously it is different – I’ll get to that in a mo – but, short answer – I still love it.

So, the lower abv seems to have reduced some of the sweetness that characterised the cask strength version. This is a cleaner, drier take with more of the Islay medicinal and salt showing through. The banana notes are still there, though more subtle. Instead it has room to show more raisins, spicy rum and similar darker notes playing in the drier body.

It’s got a lot less room for water to play with, as you might expect from the lower abv. A few drops open the whisky up, but any more than that seems to dampen the whole experience. Still worth a few drops though, as you get much more banana, rum and some of that waxy feel back with it.

I prefer the committee release – it has a lot more room and range, but I will admit here it is more recognisably Ardbeg, and less dessert touched, so will play better to those who want a more pure Islay experience.

Still great, a different take on the Drum, more for Ardbeg purists. Not quite as good in my opinion, but still great and highly recommended.

Background: Ok, this may or may not be cheating. I did notes on the cask strength Committee Release version of this that I tried at an Uber Whisky Tasting Night. I liked it so much, that when I got a chance to try this, easier to get, normal abv release of the whisky, I did so without hesitation. So now I am doing notes on it. It is a different abv, it counts as a different whisky honest. I am not just indulging myself. Honest. Anyway, again this is Ardbeg that has been finished in Caribbean rum casks. Very nice. Grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria Blues.

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