Ardbeg 1990 Airigh Nam Beist – Review

Again with the marketing genius…a whisky named after the lurking place of some evil, nameless beast?  Strong, smokey spirit recalling a dark, foreboding grotto filled with a nameless dread? Sold!  Ring up the bottle, pour me a glass…I’m in.

Ardbeg’s 1990 Airigh Nam Beist has been aged for 16-18 years in old bourbon barrels and sadly, as I understand it, is being phased out their regular line of expressions. Seemingly like most whiskies Ardbeg puts out, this is an excellent dram (and would be without all the additional packaging and marketing) so it will be sad to see it go.  Stock up people, you never know when that beast will be at your door.

The Nose: Mmmmmm…wood smoke, taught peat and diesel-y oily-ness (too many hyphens?).  There’s a crisp savory quality as well, briny capers and Kalamata olives.  On top of it all clear, sweet fruit but not citrus…just ripe cantaloupe.  The nose is quick and strong but also subtle, not as bruising and flashy as some of the newer Ardbegs.

The Palate: Great oily, mouthfeel.  Peat smoke for sure, a touch medicinal, but again, more savory…meaty, oil-soaked black olives. There’s a little citrus-y zing as well, maybe lime or lemon zest. Again for all its richness, the Beist has a lightness and a crispness that sets it apart.

The Finish: Black peppercorns, oily black olives, and brine-y smoke shake hands, sit down and play cards for a while.

Thoughts: Another Ardbeg, another winner.  I loved the effect that 16 years in the barrel has on this one.  It has…well, like it should, I guess…a maturity and a refinement that theCorryvreckan’s of the world lack a bit.  Don’t get me wrong, I love, LOVE, those young, brash, overwhelming, no-age-statement malts doing donuts in the high school parking lot, but a little prudence does have its place.  That’s not to say that Airigh Nam Beist is coming to a full stop at every single intersection, this is a big, strong Ardbeg whiskey…but with the added knowing glance of a little wisdom.

Ardbeg 1990 Airigh Nam Beist

46% ABV, non chill-filtered

Score:  93

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