Dip your finger into the amber liquid (you’re adventurous, right?), drop it onto your palm and rub. Now bury your face into your hands and smell the sweet, yet burnt, almond notes emanating off your hands. The sensation almost makes you want to repeat again, until you realize that the Arbeg Corryvreckan that’s in your tumbler needs to be imbibed in order to fully experience.
In the beginning, there’s a quick—seriously it’s quick—taste of vanilla followed by mesquite mixed with pork. It’s a flashbang of flavor that slowly trickles down your throat eventually coating your stomach, bringing warmth in layers. There’s eloquence to the process from glass to gut; this is not for the novice scotch drinker. Your palette needs to adapt to the complexity of this peaty and intense blast of flavor. Besides, with its 57.1% alc/vol, it will only take one glass to feel the warmth in your head as well as your stomach.
Established as a commercial distillery in 1815, Ardbeg was a product of the distillery boom of Islay during the first quarter century in the 1800s. Known for some of the peatiest scotch in the world, Corryvreckan doesn’t disappoint. Even the name, Corryvreckan, sounds like it should be either yelled from the top of a hill in defiance or charted on a map as a destination in Braveheart. (In fact, it’s named after a famous whirlpool north of Islay.) I had never heard of Ardbeg until about a month before receiving the bottle. Being a Lagavulin, Talisker and Laphroaig supporter, I was astonished I had never been exposed to such a fine liquid. The very first twist of the cork brought forth that smell—and eventually the taste—that really made me thankful for the slow process of how scotch whiskey is made. I’m not a religious man, but God bless this black magic.
This scotch, its name, the experience, should be an event. Celebrate something, or find a reason to enjoy what you have in your hands. I repeat; Johnny Walker Red or Black doesn’t hold a candle to this fine libation. Hide this from your acquaintances and keep it for your best man, because the Ardbeg Corryvreckan deserves recognition—not some late night foray into the liquor cabinet. $100