When Ardbeg’s first version of Traigh Bhan dropped in 2019, we had been instantaneous followers of the 19 yr outdated Islay malt that was the most recent (and oldest) addition to the distillery’s everlasting lineup. Now Traigh Bhan has settled into annual batch standing, which Ardbeg is describing as “uncommon and ever-changing,” with slight modifications to cask choice with every launch.
Batch 3 has clearly undergone greater than “slight” modifications since its launch, and whereas we missed Batch 2, the variations between this and the unique bottling are hanging.
The nostril stays overloaded with peat — as large and daring as anything within the Ardbeg arsenal. Notes of lemony furnishings polish are additionally thick on the nostril. That leads issues right into a palate which provides a heavy maritime character, with notes of oyster shells and each lemon and lime including some sharper citrus parts to the combo. Surprisingly, issues are a bit gummy in texture, and because the citrus notes slowly fade, the whisky retreats to a extra simple, relatively ashy high quality, stuffed full with briny peat and leaving a relatively muddy high quality behind because it fades out.
Whereas Batch 1 had important depth and richness within the type of mint, nuts, and chocolate, I didn’t get any of that right here regardless of tasting over two separate days. As a substitute, the whisky comes off as a significantly extra nameless expression of Islay — large peat and a few fruit — with out a whole lot of the nuance that made Batch 1 so excellent. Ardbeg’s official notes peg this as a spicier, racier bottling, however that wasn’t mirrored in my tasting expertise. As a substitute, it comes throughout as a high quality and drinkable however pretty innocuous expertise — and one which can run you a reasonably penny.
The excellent news: Subsequent yr’s batch could also be fully completely different. I’d maintain out.