Recently I decided to try Corryvreckan, a higher-end version of Ardbeg Scotch, one of my favorite single malts and the smokey pearl of Islay. Corryvreckan is named after the third largest whirlpool on the planet and is just north of Islay. According to legend, a brave soul was swallowed up by this natural wonder while trying to impress a local princess. How fitting that Corryvreckan the whisky would take its name from such a powerhouse. At 57.1% alcohol (a little over 114 proof), dark and powerful water is not hard to imagine.
The whisky pours a deep amber gold, brought on by the use of French oak burgundy barrels. The first sniff fills your head with a torrent of stormy sea air and crackling fire. Branching wood notes appear after a peppery blast in the beginning, moving on to a more fruity, almost candy-like citrus (lemon, tart, marmalade). On the palate, the whisky starts with a zing, a little hot from the high proof, but also surprisingly clean in the way it presents itself.
After the first impression subsides, a rich, luxuriant mouthfeel combines sweet, sour, savory and smokey, all in one blow. Think sweetened peaches with a dash of cayenne and black pepper. With the addition of water, the spicy front becomes softer and allows you to enjoy the darker depths. Its finish is long and layered, peppery, ending with peat smoke to reveal fruit and golden malt sweetness similar to that of the Ardbeg Ten Year.
At $85.76/750ml, the price tag for Ardbeg Corryvreckan Ardberg may be a little steep. But if you're an avid whisky fan, this one is defiantly worth treating yourself.
Check in next Tuesday for staffer Doug Dorda's review of Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old, pictured above with the Corryvreckan.