The Duchess – Shieldmaiden Malin – Ardbeg 25 year old

Best of Whiskies recently send over some samples, and last time I had a look at the Glendronach bottling, today I am making time to get to know the Shieldmaiden Malin (Scandinavian name meaning ‘small warrior’) better. A bottling done for their independent line called The Duchess from the Ardbeg distillery. Bourbon cask 649 was filled with spirit in 1991 there and left to mature until 2016 when it was bottled for them at a strength of 49,8%.

Ardbeg is one of my favourite distilleries and when this sample came in a smile appeared on my face for sure. Just as a bit of backstory you should know about… The year 1991 was a year that Ardbeg was not distilling much and varying quality was recorded due to small and inconsistent productions. It had to close in 1981 and was silent until 1989. They started production again but until 1996 it only produced spirit for two months each year. So, that makes this interesting, because the signature flavours we know from Ardbeg nowadays can be totally different then found in this dram.

On the nose I can find flavours of freshly made lemon lemonade, creamy banana and vanilla notes, earthy and salty seaweed notes, gooseberries, the flavours of the sea crashing in on the pebble beach, releasing a mineral note. Hint of soft spices, mint and black pepper, roasted nuts, fudge, a cup of strong black tea and a glass of pear juice side by side.

The palate delivers warm notes of spicy cake, warm red apples, dark chocolate and fudge, creamy vanilla, marzipan, almond flakes, powdered sugar, peat, galia melon, prosciutto, heather, briny notes of seaweed, mineral coastal notes and syrupy candied mixed fruits. A warm lingering finish with the feeling of spices and chocolate chip cookie dough and vanilla sponge cake remaining to end a balanced dram. Something different but definitely reminds me of the distillery and its location, great pick for the Duchess range! Thanks for sharing Nils!

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