Comparing two whiskies head to head gives me often a better experience than analyzing them individually. This time it is the Ardbeg Almost There against the ten year old.
I must face the sad fact that I have reached the bottom of my Almost There bottle. What did I do with the last drops? To make the most out of the last memory, I needed a frame of reference. What better way than to use the ten year old? As Mickey told me when I asked for more of the rough rich style: "Almost There, I call it Almost Perfect".
I find AT richer and more intense than the 10Y. The abv (54.1% versus 46%) and the balance between first and refill bourbon casks plays a major role. Both whiskies are very pale, though the AT is slightly more golden. AT has an intense brutality that makes it still to tear links, although it has reached nine years and is about to be tamed. The smoke of the AT is more intense and richer than in the 10Y. AT shows more sweetness, fruitiness, citrus and vanilla than the 10Y. This contributes to the richness. The Ardbeg finish of salt, pepper and seaweed is also more intense in AT, which has a more intense astringent aftertaste than the 10Y. I feel I get closer to the barrels in AT than in the 10Y, which is characterized by being rounder and more balanced than the AT. I find the smoke in the 10Y more abraded than in the AT, which is more reminiscent of a fire plot. I think the 10Y has a cleaner, sharper and more acidic smoke with a trace of ashes, although the overall impression is that the smoke in the 10Y is more balanced.
The savagery of Ardbeg Almost There will be missed.
Ardbeg Almost There, 27th February 2007 to 14th November 2014