Two of the most unique Islays you can find in this range
The Isle of Islay is best known for its strong, punch-to-the-face style peated whiskies, often reserved for those who prefer intensely smoky, complex, and heavily-layered drams. The Ardbeg Distillery and its core range is no exception to this, as the Corryvreckan and Uigeadail bring swirling aromas, deep layers of flavor, and brilliant depth and balance. Both of these peated whiskies are classified as single malt scotch and are released on an annual schedule from the distillery. While both of these offer unique flavor profiles and are dominated by Islay peat, it is the experience they provide that will tip you in one direction or another. So, which one will you choose? Let’s find out!
While there is no way to pinpoint down the exact origin of this debate, the Corry vs. Oogie preference debate has been around for quite some time. Both of these single malt scotch whiskies are named after bodies of water, with the Corryvreckan being named after a tumultuous, swirling whirlpool that sits north of Islay, and Uigeadail being named after a dark and mysterious loch. In addition to this, both of these whiskies are barrel-proof, have the highest alcohol content out of Ardbeg’s lineup, and are considered no-age statement whiskies. While it is likely that the debate comes from these similarities, these two whiskies couldn’t be farther from one another in taste, complexity, and experience.
To the eye, the Ardbeg Corryvreckan is a deep, rich amber. It comes with an intense and heady aroma that hits you with a pungent and strong peat smoke. The peat notes are clean and are combined with peppery spices, cloves, briny seaweed, and linseed oil. As your nose gets lost in the powerful torrents of smell, the dram will open up into a warm burst of sugar paired with black currants and dark chocolate. You may also get a hint of earthy pine needles, plump cherries, and cayenne-peppered steak with smoky bacon, and hints of vanilla. While you may think that this would lead into a sweeter taste, it does not and instead lends itself to buttery notes and a sharp and forceful blow of menthol, chili sauce, and treacle.
The Uigeadail offers luxurious deep gold coloring, matched with a rich, heady, smoky, and weighty aroma of fresh ocean spice, pine needles, cedar trees, and violets. You may also get a hint of leather, toffee, chocolate-covered raisins, and a warm reminiscent reminder of walnut oil and Christmas cake. If you let your nose sit and take in all the smells, you may also get rich flowering currants, baked banana bread combined with tarry smoke and diesel engine oil. Yes, you read that right. Unlike the Corry, the Oogie offers a much sweeter sense of smell that is combined with the expected peatiness of Islay whiskies while retaining the intensity it is known for. The Corry, on the other hand, will hit you harder with more spice, fruits, and smoke.
On the taste front, the Corryvreckan is going to plunge you into a bombardment of flavors, from deep, peppery and chewy steak to ocean seaweed. You may also get a nice nod to espresso coffee, and blueberries, cherries, and blackcurrants will delight your tongue with rich, bitter, and fruity sensations. As you hold the Corry, the taste may develop into a dry, yet surprisingly tasty, hickory.
The Uigeadail, on the other hand, doesn’t throw numerous tastes at you all at once but instead provides a rich coated texture that balances out the spicy, smoky, and sweet flavors of honey, treacle, and sherry-infused smoke. While the Uigeadail does have an earthier profile than the Corry, the balance between fruit, peat, and honey is marvelous.
The Corry is going to give you a powerful finish that hits you with hot pepper sauce, chocolate coated cherries, and a black, dark, tarry coffee. It’s daring, it’s mysterious, and it’s heavily layered like the swirling whirlpool it is named after. The Oogie has a chewier finish, deep mocha tones, aromatic smoke, and a small lingering hint of liquorice and raisins. It is pleasantly salty and has a nice peaty aftertaste.
If you are looking to try out a more traditional, heavy peat whisky that characterizes the isle of Islay into a single dram, definitely go with the Corryvreckan. It is a harsher, sharper, stronger, pungent peat bomb that will give you a lot of rich, dark fruit notes. However, if you want a sweeter, younger tasting single malt scotch whisky, the Uigeadail is definitely for you as the sherry influence dampens the smokiness and allows the earthy pine and dry cinnamon to shine through.
The Ardbeg Corryvreckan comes in at $229.90 regular price, or $187.90 on sale per bottle and boxed. It has an alcohol by volume percentage of 57.1% with 70CL and is aged at 10 years as a single malt scotch whisky. The Corryvreckan has won accolades from the World Whiskies Awards for the World’s Best Single Malt. The Corryvreckan is a non-chill-filtered whisky and is matured in a mixture of French Oak and Burgundy Wine casks.
The Ardbeg Uigeadail comes in at $199.90 regular price, or $167.90 on sale per bottle but is not boxed. It has an alcohol by volume percentage of 54.2% with 70CL and is aged at 10 years also. It is classified as a single malt scotch whisky. The Uigeadail has been praised as being silky brilliant and has won accolades in the World Whisky of the Year category. The Uigeadail is a non-chill-filtered whisky and is matured in ex-sherry and ex-bourbon barrels.