Ardbeg Perpetuum Review

“An (Ard) Bag of Licorice”

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Ardbeg Perpetuum
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS (Natural Colour - NCF)
ABV: 47.4%

Colour: White Wine

Nose: Young, Light, Medicinal, Grassy and slightly Sour. The Peat and Smoke are there of course but the Perpetuum is certainly not as Peaty as for instance the 10 Years. I find Sweet Barley, Ashes, Soot, Iodine, Hay, Toasted Nuts, Oak, Toffee, light Vanilla, Caramel, Sour Apples, Lemon Peel, Mint, light Licorice, light Aniseed, Wet Stone and hints of Espresso and Leather. The Peat is more Earthy and Floral than Coastal and reminds me of Cooked Vegetables every once in a while. It's clear that mainly Refill Ex-Bourbon Casks have been used to mature the Perpetuum. I hardly smell any Sherry Cask influence. A bit of Dried Fruit perhaps but nothing significant. It's a strange Nose for an Ardbeg. It's not bad but I miss Power, Depth and Complexity. In all honesty I find it boring.   

Taste: Young, Sharp and slightly Medicinal. I find Dirty Earth, Charcoal, Burnt Toast, Toasted Nuts, Smoked Meat, Citrus Peel, Grapefruit, Apple, Pear, Tea, Licorice, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Espresso and a hint of Leather.  

Finish: Rather Short, Bitter-Sweet and Dry in the end with Tar, Brine, Ashes, Dirty Earth, Charcoal, Dried Herbs, Malt, Menthol, Pepper, Lemon Peel, Bitter Chocolate, Salty Licorice, Cloves, Espresso and a light Metallic Off-Note.

Unfortunately I merely had a small sample so I only tasted the Perpetuum neat.

Rating: 82

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20.5 – Finish: 20 – Overall: 20.5

General Remarks: To celebrate 200 Years of Ardbeg, the distillery launched the Perpetuum earlier this year during Feis Ile. It was created by Ardbeg's Bill Lunden and is a mix of old - and recent Ardbegs in order to represent Past, Present and Future. The Perpetuum matured in Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Sherry casks. The "original" Perpetuum DE had an ABV of 49.2% and was only sold at the Distillery. It's not available anymore unless you want to pay absurd prices. The Perpetuum I'm tasting today was released soon after Feis Ile for a broader market and at a lower ABV of 47.4%. I'm told there are additional differences between the two expressions other than the ABV. Most likely, the demand was so high that Ardbeg had to provide additional batches. In any case, this "regular" Perpetuum is probably sold out in many places as well but in other places it might still be around at a price of around 120 US Dollars (September 2015).  

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good   

Conclusion: The name Perpetuum stands for "Ardbeg Forever". I drink to that but I do hope Ardbeg does nor plan to go on forever with Malts like this. So far, four Ardbegs have made it into my all time Top 20 but this Perpetuum is not gonna join them. In fact this is the first Ardbeg that I have tasted that I don't care for. The Nose is okay but boring and Palate and Finish are forgettable unless you love Licorice. All in all, it's not totally bad but it's an odd mix of Aromas and Flavours without a lot of coherence and direction. It's really hard to describe this Perpetuum. It's certainly not a fiery Peat Bomb and it's obvious that most of the whisky used in this expression is quite Young. It's also hard to trace any Sherry Cask influence. It all smells and tastes like a Rush Job to me. Hardly a whisky to celebrate anything. I promise you a better whisky on the 200th anniversary of Best Shot Whisky Reviews!   

Jan van den Ende                                                               September 3, 2015

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