Ardbeg Grooves

”Let’s Groove”

Whisky Review # 908

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Ardbeg Grooves - Limited Edition Feis Isle 2018
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: A mix of Ex- Bourbon and Portuguese Ex-Wine Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 150-230 (March 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎Too expensive for such a Young, Experimental Ardbeg
Buying Advice: 😑 It's not bad and you might like it but it leaves me stone-cold! 


Dark Amber (Natural Color)


A mix of familiar Ardbeg Coastal/Medicinal Aromas & Sweet Red Wine casks. Herbs & Spices are there as well. It's a Young Whisky for sure and the Alcohol is slightly noticeable. It's certainly interesting but I don't think it's the direction I want Ardbeg to take in the future. The Nose leaves me a bit confused actually and I'm not quite sure what to think of it. It's not bad though.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Malted Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Cold Smoke, Peat (Wet Clay), Ashes, Soot, Sweet Dark Red Fruit, Lemon, Smoked Pork, Paprika Schnitzel served with Fresh Coriander and Lemon, Leather, Oak Char, Pepper, Ginger and Menthol.   
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Marzipan, Tar, Iodine, Mix of Straw and Cow Manure, Band-Aids, Wet Rocks and Sand, Resin, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Seville Orange, Polished Old Wood, Green Apple, Cinnamon, Cloves and hints of Rubber and strong Espresso.   


Quite Sweet and a little Young and on the Thin side. A few Bitter, Salty & Sour notes for balance. It's okay I guess but I'm not getting Into the Groove!

Main Flavours:

Sweet Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Peat (Wet Clay), Cold Smoke, Ashes, Dark Red Fruit, Cherry-Flavored Cough Syrup, Leather, Fish and Shell-Fish on the BBQ, Lemon, Green Apple, Charred Oak, Pepper, Ginger, Licorice and Menthol.
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Soot, Tar, Iodine, Band-Aids, Resin, Seville Orange, Rum-soaked Raisins, Coriander, Smoked Paprika Powder, Mix of Straw and Cow Manure, Herbal Tea, Cinnamon and Cloves.


Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Increasingly Bitter, Dry, Salty and Ashy towards the end. I find Sweet Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Peat (Wet Clay), Cigar Ashes, Cold Smoke, Soot, Tar, Leather, Charred Oak, Dusty Cellar, Wet Rocks and Sand, Smoked Nuts, Bacon on the BBQ, slightly Sour Red Wine, Herbal Tea, Cocoa Powder, Lemon, Green Apple, Cardboard Office Boxes, Resin, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Menthol and Licorice. Hints of Strong Espresso & Iron.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water spoils this Ardbeg.

Rating: 85

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat:

Good but not my kinda thing.


The current Distillery was founded in 1815 by John MacDougall, close to the little town of Port Ellen on the island of Islay. In 1997 the distillery was bought by The Glenmorangie Company (part of French based Moet Hennessy) from the previous owners Allied Distillers. This company closed Ardbeg between 1981 and 1989 and only produced yearly during 2 months between 1989 and 1997. As a result, Ardbeg is lacking older stocks and is almost forced to launch Limited Editions while maintaining a very limited core range that consists of the 10 Years, Corryvreckan, An Oa, Traigh Bhan, Wee Beastie and Uigeadail. Like Glenmorangie, Ardbeg likes to experiment with Wood, Toasting and NAS expressions. In 2020 Ardbeg produced around 1,4 million liters of Alcohol.

Ardbeg Grooves was released on the occasion of Ardbeg Day 2018. Part of the Malt used to make Grooves was matured in Red Wine casks that were heavily charred resulting in heavy grooves in the surface of the wood.

People that follow my reviews on a regular basis know that I'm always in for new ways of maturing Whisky. So I will applaud Ardbeg's work and thinking in creating the Grooves. And I'm sure there will be people who will like it despite the fact that the price is very steep for such a Young Whisky. But it doesn't work for me although it's not a bad Single Malt. And I'm a big Ardbeg fan! But to me the Grooves strays too far from everything I love about Ardbeg. And why would I buy an Ardbeg that isn't an Ardbeg. Innovation is good when it adds value to the distillery character. In my opinion that's not the case here. Look forward to hear your opinion!


Jan van den Ende                                                                         March 31, 2021

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