Ardbeg Dark Cove is the 2016 Ardbeg special release and what makes it so special is its use of what Ardbeg is calling “Dark Sherry” casks. I’m not entirely sure what that is and doing some Googling for dark sherry basically told me that there is no such thing. Though it seems PX is the darkest of the sherries so my guess is they used some PX casks to help achieve the color which they’re saying is the darkest Ardbeg to ever be released.
I don’t have a massive array of Ardbeg to compare it with anymore, last year’s Ardbeg April took care of that, so we’re going to have to take their word for it. On sight the Ardbeg Dark Cove definitely looks dark compared to most Ardbeg, even the Uigeadail, so I have no reason to doubt them. Though if one human being on this earth would know for sure it’s Tim over at the Ardbeg Project and I’ll definitely be getting his opinion on the matter next time I see him.
Ardbeg Dark Cove Info
Region: Islay, Scotland
Mashbill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-Bourbon & ex-Sherry
Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color
Ardbeg Dark Cove Review
Peat, dark earthy fruit and malt, spice, toffee and light notes of nuts, tire rubber, char, cocoa, apples and fruit tarts. It’s a pleasant aroma and I’m quite content to sit here and sniff away.
Peat, dark sweets, earthy fruit and malt, nuts, oily, light bits of coffee beans, rubber, cocoa and roasted chestnuts. Even though I’m picking up a bit more on the palate it’s not coming across as dynamic as the nose. Still, it’s a nice sip and I wouldn’t argue if I came home to a glass.
Long and peaty with solid notes of char, cocoa and spearmint.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Good balance, full round body and an oily feel that runs a touch hot.
The aroma of the Ardbeg Dark Cove is s’mores over a campfire; sweet and smoky. The palate continues the rustic forest campfire theme; it’s smoky and relaxing. The touch of spearmint on the finish is the perfect end cap to the experience; like brushing your teeth before bed after eating s’mores around the campfire.
Ardbeg Dark Cover is kind of like my childhood camping experiences in a dram. Though I’d love it if they “adulted” it up a bit and used more sherry casks, or even 100% sherry casks in a release. I’ve had some older Ardbegs with a heavier sherry component and when you get that intense peat n’ sweet combo executed the Ardbeg way it’s incredible.
The sherry influence in the Ardbeg Dark Cove is light, but I did get some of those dark earthy and nutty notes which are typical with sherried whiskies so the influence is there, but not in a “Oh look, sherry” kind of way. It’s influential, but not overbearing and makes for an interesting whisky.
SCORE: 87/100 (B+)
*Disclosure: This sample of Ardbeg Dark Cove was graciously sent to me by the company for the purposes of this review. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.
Ardbeg Dark Cove Review - Score Breakdown
- Nose - 87
- Palate - 87
- Finish - 87
- Balance, Body & Feel - 87
Ardbeg Dark Cove is a sweet and smoky dram that’s definitely a decent pour.