Sunday, 28 August 2011

Battle of the Sexes: Ardbeg Uigeadail

Me contemplating Uigedail
There's only one way to end a night spent drinking great quantities in great company, and that is to continue drinking great quantities in great company and then finish with an impromptu whisky tasting competition. We had everything we needed: Two Glencairn glasses, a bottle of whisky and three people, two to taste, one to adjudicate. The tasters would be myself and my girlfriend, Ellen (apparently competition is our thing). The judge would be my friend Rob, who we deemed impartial enough fulfil this crucial role. I should say he was impartial in that his urge to embarrass me should equal out any loyalty to me over Ellen... Oh and he has a fantastic knowledge of whisky so was in a perfect position to judge our notes. The whisky would be the behemoth that is the Ardbeg Uigeadail. A caskstrength Ardbeg named after the loch that feeds this reputable Islay distillery. It consistently gets rave reviews and seemed like a great whisky to finish the night with.

Ellen posing
We took our places, whisky poured, pencils sharpened, and not without some trepidation. The tasting took place in silence, a lot was at stake here. Firstly I don't particularly enjoy losing and secondly I take some pride in teaching Ellen to taste whisky, so was looking for a close win. Eventually our notes were complete and in turn we read them out to Rob who sat magnanimously with a tumbler of Uigeadail waiting to judge. Here are our notes:

Nose: A salted caramel, heavy smoke with hints of the leathery, metallic tang you get with a new car.
Palate: Smooth, with the flavour of Nori (the seaweed that wraps sushi) intertwined with the smoke.
Finish: The smoke increased on the finish, with a definite sweetness present and undertones of a light spice, perhaps cumin and coriander.

And here are mine:
Ardbeg Uigeadail
54.2% - No Age Statement
Nose: Oak smoke galore with a strong combination of grapefruit and butterfudge. Past this heavyweight combo there is heather, stewed cherries and marshmallow with a charcoal character closing the nose.
Palate: Chlorine jumps to the fore followed by grapes and raisins. There is an underlying toffee sweetness and an essence of an alcoholic trifle.
Finish: A burst of creamy toffee chased by smokey embers. With that heather from the nose transforming into damp peaty undergrowth.
Overall: A massively smokey, take no prisoners whisky. As delicate and complex as it is immense. Deserving of the plaudits it has gathered. A clear winner of a dram.

Our judge
Rob spent much time considering our notes. He loved Ellen's new car metaphor and, like me, was shocked I missed out on the spiciness Ellen got on the finish. After even more umm-ing and ahh-ing he made his decision and awarded me the prize of champion for my identification of the citrus notes. For me this was more of a joint victory. I am pleased with my win, but I am happier that Ellen could now taste a whisky and make accurate notes. It's not every lad who can convince his girlfriend to enjoy whisky also... Although this does mean next time I will be much more competitive. I can't be beaten a girl now can I?


  1. Excellent, just excellent! :D

  2. Still kicking myself for not putting down citrus on the nose. Could have had another win under my belt!

  3. It was incredibly close. Don't worry, next time i'm down i'll set you both another challenge just to watch Angus squirm :)