By Andy Smith
Another Ardbeg is born. The Traigh Bhan and An Oa stand as fine Ardbegs but the reception has been politely muted. Will this be the bottle that becomes a shelf staple? Let’s start this out with a note from Ardbeg :
Ardbeg Wee Beastie is the latest permanent expression to join the Distillery’s Ultimate Range. At just five years old, Wee Beastie is a feisty young creature with a formidable taste.
SOMETHING BIG AND SMOKY…
Our whisky creators set out to make the rawest, smokiest Ardbeg ever. The result is Ardbeg Wee Beastie and this tongue-tingling, beautifully smoky dram is the youngest Ardbeg we’ve ever made.
Polyurethane drying on pine. Ah yes, the fine smell of a fumy garage signalling a child is but a day away from a new bunk bed. Perhaps there’s a sack of potting soil from Lowe’s still waiting for spring planting.
Thin and watery mouthfeel, but is still flavorful. Good choice not dropping this to 40% as it doesn’t seem like it could take more water and keep its punch. It’s simple and soil-y, perhaps with a hint of semi-sweet Werther’s Original candy. The finish is fleeting but makes you want to drink more, FAST.
This seems to clock in at around the $40-$45 range and may be less after tariff’s end. This goes down very easy, almost too easy. Ardbeg, with their odd-looking choice of ABV (47.5%), has managed to keep the Wee Beastie delicate enough not to burn, but flavorful enough to keep us interested.
Very few of you will remember the Ardbeg series that followed 5-10 years after the re-opening in 1998. The “Path to Peaty Maturity” (Very Young, Still Young, Almost There) follows the development from a 5-6 year old malt to 10 year (bottled as “Renaissance” but unlike any Ardbeg 10yr before or after.) It’s been a decade since I’ve had them, but I recall the youngest versions as vegetal and toe-curling but getting better as their age progressed. Because of the closure, those bottles couldn’t have included older Ardbeg. Wee Beastie, however CAN and likely does have older Ardbeg in it to smooth out those “Very Young” edges. Remember, “5yr” on the label just means that there is nothing under that age in the bottle. They could put 22 year old whisky in if they wanted. Aside from adding older whisky, the only other way this Beastie could be so different from the Path Series is that they used different spirit or different casks, but it seems unlikely that this could may up the difference.
At this price buy two so you don’t have to go back to the store tomorrow. It’s not epic by any means, but have a look at your fill level an hour after you open it… it may scare you a WEE bit.