Ardbeg Dark Cove Review

Ardbeg Dark Cove Review

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

Distiller: Ardbeg
Mashbill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-Bourbon & ex-Sherry
Age: NAS
ABV: 55%

Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color

Price: $110*

Ardbeg Dark Cove Review

Light caramel

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.

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.

Ardbeg Dark Cove Label

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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21 Responses to Ardbeg Dark Cove Review

  1. Thanks so much for your reviews—you’re one of the people I read before making purchasing decisions. Going to take a pass on the Dark Cove, if only because right now I can get Uigeadail for $58 where I live, so a sherried Ardbeg release would need to be pretty amazing to make me pull out over $100. Cheers!

  2. This one is far better than 87. I passed up the opportunity to buy a bottle of the Committee release because of your inaccurate rating. I’ve lost a bit of respect for your ratings as a result. –Whisky Kirk

    • …you do realize a rating is just an expression of an opinion right? I have an entire article about how a score is nothing more than that linked on every single review – something you obviously never took the time to read. If you like it more than an 87 that’s great, I didn’t. People do have different tastes, but if your tastes and my tastes don’t align then it’s probably best you go read someone else’s blog. In fact I know you should because you seem to be a moron and a raging asshole to boot. This completely dick-headed message you sent me “Fuck you for erasing my comments twice” proves both points.

      When you posted the comments did you wonder why they didn’t immediately show up? Not because I have super ninja delete skills, you moron, but because they went into moderation because you weren’t an approved commenter on the blog yet. Which means I needed to read them before they were approved and as you can see I approved both of them, you asshole. I have a day job that takes up a lot of my time and it took me a few days to get to my comments. So I’m sorry I didn’t read and approve your dickish comments immediately, but your presence here won’t be missed.

  3. Josh, your rather low rating of Dark Cove influenced me not to pick up a bottle of the Committee Bottling. I deeply regret that decision.

  4. I have no idea what you’re talking about. You gave a ridiculously low rating and I suffered as a result. You didn’t. As for your use of profanity, that just underscores my point.

    • Ha, you hypocritical jerk-off.

      I got a comment from FACE using the fake email address saying “Fuck you for erasing my comments twice”. It was posted to this exact review on 6/24. You are literally the only person who had 2 angry comments in moderation and both of which were for this review. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to put those pieces together, you’re not sneaky.

      Don’t sit there and pretend like you’re taking the high road when you don’t even have the guts to use your real name in your insults. So no Kirk, FUCK YOU for being a child about not buying a bottle of whisky and for being such a little weasel that you only use profanity when it’s anonymous so you can feign some kind of non-existent moral high ground. That’s a chicken-shit move and so that everyone else who ever reads this can see exactly what I’m referencing I went ahead and restored the comment from Trash and approved it.

      EDIT: I’d also like to add that I just did a TraceRoute on the IP addresses used on both comments and both reside in the Pacific Northwest. For the sake of your privacy I’m not going to say which beverage loving town the last hop terminates in. That’s a hell of a lot of coincidences for you to not have left the “Fuck you for erasing my comments twice” comment. As as I’m concerned you’re a lying little weasel.

  5. If you hadn’t given an L13 Uigeadail 94 points, then I might have judged your rating of the Dark Cover differently. I’ve tasted plenty of L13 Uigeadails. I’ve even tasted the L13 148 and it is nowhere near a 94. You also gave the Kilchoman 2008 Vintage a 93. And yet you gave the COMMITTEE EDITION of Dark Cove an 87. That is utterly inconsistent and not just an “opinion.”

    I trusted your critical judgement and it really let me down. Too bad you don’t have more of that Dark Cove sample to taste, alongside the Uigeadail. If you did, you would see that I am making a valid point here.

    Your lapse of judgement cost me a rare opportunity, and yet you couldn’t care less. That speaks volumes.

    • The fact that this situation has gotten you so twisted up is ridiculous, absolutely and unbelievably ridiculous. This happens to me all the time and you know what I do? I shrug my shoulders and move on. I follow at least a dozen other whisky blogs whose opinion I trust and I NEVER agree with them 100% of the time. I’m always seeing things I rated higher or lower and I’ve never sent them a pissy dickish message like you did. IT’S JUST WHISKY.

      And yes, you’re absolutely right I don’t care about costing you a “rare opportunity”, that’s 100% on you for not setting your own standards. When I’m interested in something and one of the blogs I follow reviews it and they give it a B+ or higher I do what I can to get a taste, which you’ve obviously been able to do or you wouldn’t be acting like such a child about not getting to spend some money. I’ll go to a bar, setup a sample swap, find a friend who bought it and go drink at their house or something so I can try it and then go buy it if I liked it. I don’t put the responsibility of my decisions on anyone but myself and if I miss out, so what, it’s just whisky. Ardbeg will put out a new LE next year and the year after that and the year after that and the year after that.

      You’re an incredibly rude individual who doesn’t take responsibility for their own actions or lack thereof and I’m done with you. Respond if you want, but if you send me another “Fuck you” from a fake email address I’ll delete it, delete this thread and ban your IP address. I have more important things to do with my time than argue about my opinion with someone who hasn’t setup their own standards of curiosity and buying guidelines.

      P.S. Yes, I did try it right next to my Oogie, side by side, and the Oogie blew it away. I was considering giving the DC an 89 until I did it SBS and realized just how much weaker it was in overall character.

  6. You can rant and rave all you like, and try to shift the focus of my replies. Your rating was too low and you know it, even though you won’t admit it. There weren’t very many ratings of the Dark Cove on the Internet when I trusted your review, based upon how you had reviewed other peaty whiskies with a similar profile to the Dark Cove.

    You can try to portray me as a rude person, but I merely spoke my mind. You are the one who cursed up a storm and lashed out at me personally, over and over again, calling me obscene names.

    It’s hard to believe that you tried the Dark Cove next to the L13 Uigeadail. The sherry influence in Dark Cove is NOT light.

    As for poor Bill, he doesn’t know what he is missing . . . thanks to you. The latest Uigeadails are going way downhill. In a few months, when the Dark Coves are sold out, Bill will probably regret his decision to pass on a bottle of the standard Dark Cove, just as I regret passing on a Committee bottling.

    Feel free to delete these replies if you like. I would have responded to you via private email but that feature is not offered on your website, at least not that I could find. I wasn’t trying to throw mud on your reputation publicly. I was merely telling you that your opinion does carry weight. Contrary to what you think, your website is very popular and you do have a responsibility to offer accurate and consistent ratings. But hey . . . that’s just one man’s opinion.

    Despite the fact that your rating caused me misfortune, I still like your website. It’s very well done. Sharp looking, and your tasting notes show originality and a nice command of the language. I just understand now that you have a bad temper, you tend to lash out personally and angrily when somebody calls attention to a shortcoming of your site, and that your ratings are somewhat challenged.

    • Backhand compliment much? I don’t have a temper, I just have zero tolerance for rude people. People disagree with my reviews all the time and they tell me, but they do it respectfully and we have an even discourse. You fired the first 3 shots, so you shouldn’t be surprised that I fired back. You have to give respect to get respect and I don’t respect liars. I take great pride in being upfront and only ever publishing my honest opinion.

      Also, there is an option for email. It’s right at the top, it says CONTACT.

  7. I see a lot of anger in your replies, far more than I displayed, and to most people anger of that sort is equated with “having a temper.” I’d be willing to bet that you do have a temper about other things, as well. It’s okay to have a temper, lots of folks do, but maybe not so okay to lie about it, especially after you’ve called someone else a liar.

    By the way regular Dark Cove is not very dark. The name is misleading. Uigeadail is pretty light these days too because it’s so young now. It used to be dark years ago, when it had older stuff in it. I think Ardbeg is putting quite a few barrels into Uigeadail these days that are far younger than 10 years old. I think you put a filter on your picture of the Dark Cove. There’s nothing wrong with that, it just makes the Dark Cove look darker than it is. Then again, I’ve never seen the Committee bottle in person.

    I think if we had met initially in person we would have gotten along just fine, Josh. I’m pretty old, and I’m not very good at getting all of the online bells and whistles to work. I am glad for your website. I was a bit cranky for missing that Committee bottle, so I apologize for being cranky on your website.

    At any rate, best of luck to you, and I’m also sorry I missed the email option. I didn’t see it. Email is more my style anyways.

    • You read anger, I read snark. Thank you for the apology, it’s possible we might have gotten along if we met in person, I’ve been told I’m an amicable human being. In the future if you don’t agree with something I write feel free to just say “I feel otherwise, here’s why” without insulting and I’ll happily engage you at an even level.


  8. Maybe you would have rated this higher if you had got a free sample, or a distillery tour . . . that is, judging by the way your ratings seem to roll, even though you say that is not the case.

    • You’re so witty, but your wit seems to have rendered your eyes unable to see so well because I did indeed recieve this as a free sample. You see that image? It’s an official sample bottle from Ardbeg… and then there’s the clearly stated and prominently placed disclosure…

      *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.

  9. Wow, so many people got their panties in a twist over a review. It is ok for someone not to like it. Relax guys. Thanks for the review! I agree with you on the UIGEADAIL, thanks – yours is one of the blogs I check for seeing what a whisky is about.

  10. A most amusing thread. Thanks for for keeping it up rather than deleting it. It love it when you get a bit hot under the collar Josh! Dark Cove was okay, though a bit lacklustre (I missed The Committee bottling despite being a member). For me the Oogie is still enormous, though pipped at the post by the Corryvreckan – Jim Murray’s opinion notwithstanding. And I seriously reckon the Airigh Nam Beist deserves a mention in dispatches as the best LE Ardbeg of all time. Please keep the reviews and passion flowing in 2017. Happy New Year.

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