Review: Ardbeg 19yr Traigh Bhan

It’s not often a new (permanent-ish) Ardbeg is born. Yay. Let’s start this out with a note from Ardbeg (Dr. Bill? The Kelpie?)

Ardbeg Traigh Bhan is a sublime 19 year old whisky and the Distillery’s latest small batch release. Inspired by Islay’s Traigh Bhan beach (known locally as the Singing Sands), this rare aged spirit is an enchanting reflection of the place to which it owes its name

They go on to spoil the surprise, like every marketing team ever, and tell you what you should smell and taste. But I don’t want THEM to ruin the surprise for you, I want to ruin the surprise for you. Let’s go spoil your innocence…

THE REVIEW

Nose: Newly finished wood on a a dry eastern (US) autumn day. (sounds like I’m polishing my resume for SMWS, right?)

Palate: Initially the mouthfeel is a bit thin and meh. The salty-ness hits first and then perhaps leads to a green tea tea that has been sitting too long in fresh cut wood. There’s a bit of a tamed rawness I faintly remember from the Ardbeg “Almost There” bottle from years’ past. It has a finish or aftertaste of asphalt or charcoal.

THE VERDICT

I wanna drink it, of course I do, it’s Ardbeg. Unfortunately, they watered it down too much and it’s noticeable. It has a nice one-note type palate, but for something that claims oloroso sherry, well, I didn’t see it. This is $300 in the USA. THREE HUNDRED?! I remember when Laphroiag 18 bombed at $150 years ago because it just wasn’t that much better than the younger releases. I’m afraid Ardbeg may be stretching for more of our pocketchange than they’ve earned here.

If you had lined up the Ardbeg range up and gave me a go, I’d probably be able to pick this out. But if I was a little busy and you handed be an An Oa and said it was Traigh Bhan, man, I don’t think I’d call you out.


Game of Thrones – The Whisky Review


By Andy Smith, House Snark

The 2018 release of Game of Thrones was a fairly brilliant marketing plan by Diageo to cross-brand one of the world’s most famous TV shows with many of the world’s most “whatever” distilleries (plus Lagavulin and Talisker.) There has been some grumbling in the community that these bottles are no better (or perhaps no different) than their non-Westerosi versions. We’ll look at what only one person thinks of them (me), in the order from worst to first.

Cardhu Gold Reserve – House Targaryen
“Fire and zzzzzzz”

Nose: Cheap fake wood furniture.

Palate: Well, this is pretty dull. It’s like wood finish lost its flavor (does that make sense?) It’s like a blander cheerio.

Pretty bold move making this the House Targaryen (possibly to spur sales on a hohum dram). I thought I was getting Balerion, but I got Puff.


The Singleton of Glendullan Select – House Tully
“Family, Blandness, Waste of Money”

Nose: Lumber soaked in sugar and alcohol.

Palate: Noticeably too watered down. Mild sourdough bread. Boring and pointless.

It’s the Season 8, Episode 2 of scotch whisky. It takes the high expectations we have for Glendullan and kinda meets them.


Oban Bay Reserve – The Night’s Watch
“My Watch Tastes Blended”

Nose: Very moldy citrus.

Palate: Cereal in musty closet. Also, that’s about it.


Royal Lochnagar 12yr – House Baratheon
“Ours Is The Whatever”

Nose: Old orange peel.

Palate: Moldy fruit on wheat bread. No finish.


Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost – House Stark
“Winter is Boring”

Nose: Very floral. Maybe honeysuckle.

Palate: Thin and forgettable. A rose petal in water. Makes you feel like, wait, what was I reviewing, again? Can’t remember, nevermind.


Clynelish Reserve – House Tyrell
“Growing Nowhere”

Nose: Bowl of not-quite moldy fruit.

Palate: Bitter peaches and pears. Bit of citrus toward the end but never defines itself.


Lagavulin 9yr – House Lannister
“A Lagavulin Always Peats His Malts”

Nose: Fake leather. Like being back in the ’70s Toyota Corona. Road trip to the Wall!

Palate: Earth and bitter greens. Like eating a garden, soil and all. Clearly young. Sort of metallic finish.

Earth, metal, and bitterness… like having the Dragon Queen stamp your broken dead Lannister face in the mud.


Talisker Select Reserve – House Greyjoy
“We Do Not Disappoint”

Nose: Watermelon saltwater taffey.

Palate: Salted sugarcane. Little bit of generic fruit jolly rancher toward the finish. Easy to drown in.



And so there you have it. Please see below for the grading scale (which means everything, doesn’t it.) Quite frankly, only the Lagavulin and Talisker are worth getting off your seat for. Lagavulin 9 is easily overshadowed by its cheaper, older, and better big brother, Lagavulin 16. The Talisker is the only expression I’d really recommend buying, but then only at its original price which seems only available in Europe. If, of course, you’re a whisky and GOT geek who just loves the fun of it (I have to admit the packaging is kinda cool) then you’ll have to go find a flipper who bought them up so you couldn’t. Hopefully the prices have dropped now that the premiere has aired.

If these reviews seem brief, I will say this… most of them didn’t earn more words. If there is nothing in a malt, then there is nothing in the review. I don’t make up words to fluff more than is really there. I’m glad I could make the sacrifice so you don’t have to. Special thanks to Nim Shah, who didn’t donate samples, he donated an entire set.