Ardbeg “Blasda” Blah

So, it’s finally here.   1800 bottles for the UK market, malt peated to 25 ppm, giving 8ppm in the bottle, no age statement, chill-filtered and bottled at 40% abv.  An ongoing product scheduled to have a three-year lifespan.

It’s Ardbeg Blasda.

Ardbeg Blasda

Ardbeg Blasda

Ardbeg Blasda has had many of the distillery’s fans in a state of anticipation for some months now.  I first saw the press pack for this early in July, and have been wondering about it ever since.

At first there was euphoria when news of Blasda’s imminent arrival leaked out – an affordable Kildalton was something that a lot of people had hoped for and many quickly assumed their prayers had been answered.

But then the inevitable carping began:  Why has this been chill-filtered when Ardbeg are normally so keen to emphasise that they don’t tamper with their whisky this way?  Why has it been bottled at a wussy 40% instead of the manly 46% that gives the ten year old its wonderful zing?  Why is this no age statement whisky over forty quid a bottle?

Ah, say Glenmorangie, but that’s the whole point!  This is all about comparing and contrasting different styles of Ardbeg.  Blasda gives people an opportunity to marvel at the distillery’s versatility.

Whoever is right, and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle as usual,  the facts are that this release has certainly provoked plenty of publicity and debate and most Ardbeg fans are likely to buy a bottle out of curiosity.

Personally, I had originally thought that the 8ppm was the malt peating level, not the final in-bottle level.  But as it turns out, Blasda’s malt was peated at  25ppm – not much less than Caol Ila, about the same as Bowmore and far more than Bruichladdich or Bunnahabhain. So in effect, bottled Blasda has one third of the phenols of the Ardbeg ten year-old.

I’m wondering: in what would be a rather ironic twist, have Glenmorangie perhaps made this Blasda not unpeaty enough??  (My grammar always goes to sh*t when I wonder, but I hope you see my point).

I’m lucky enough to be going to our Ardbeg tasting with Micky Heads on Monday night at TWE’s shop in Vinopolis, and I’m sure Blasda is making an appearance, so will report back on whether or not this has been an inspired move by Glenmorangie or a disappointing missed opportunity.  Whatever turns out to be the case with Blasda, I know I’m going to have a good night – apparently there’ll be one of the single cask jobs floating around as well.
Full details next week.

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