There’s been some hype around the latest Ardbeg offering, Galileo. It’s been released in “limited” quantities to celebrate an experiment going on with Ardbeg whisky being aged in space. This isn’t a space-aged whisky, but only celebrates it. Ardbeg, in typical fashion, toured around with a semi truck pulling a big rocket, giving tastings here and there around the US. The whisky is roughly 13 years old, aged in a mix of first fill bourbon (meaning, I guess, casks that had bourbon once, but are used for Scotch the first time) and Sicilian marsala casks.
Also typically, the box of the bottle follows an Ardbeg theme, but has a rocket on the front, and the Ardbeg dog in a space walk helmet. It’s also a bit tongue-in-cheek, whish is something I do appreciate about Ardbeg. This is whisky, not politics. It’s ok to have fun around it.
I tried a bit of this the other night, having had the bottle for a couple of months without opening it. The bottle itself is the same bottle used for about every Ardbeg expression. The label reflects the box; black and silver and simple. I poured a dram into a glass and found it a bit more colored than the 10 year old, and a bit more of an orangish color than some of the other Ardbegs.
I’ve read that some think the Galileo is a huge departure, in a bad way, from other Ardbeg whiskies. I thought that it was pretty obvious that it’s still an Ardbeg, just one with a different feel to it. One review I read said it was like a Distiller’s Edition, and it did remind me somewhat of the Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition, which I like a lot.
The marsala definitely adds sweetness to the Ardbeg peat, and softens the peat a bit, but it’s still there, along with what my wife calls the taste of band-aids. She’s right; there is a bit of that taste there. What’s odd is that I like that taste, apparently!
In keeping with my new way of talking about whiskies, I’m not going to go into the nose and palette and all that. I’m just going to say that this was a really pleasant expresssion of the Ardbeg line. It’s got a sweetness with a peat-edge and that medicinal bit at the end. This is a bit overpriced, seeing as there’s a lot of it for a limited release, but it would be a great introduction to friends into Islay whiskies. I see pulling this bottle out after a nice dinner, having my wife try a fruity drink of some sort, and pouring a bit of Galileo for anyone wanting to see if they like real whisky or not. There’s enough Ardbeg to it to have some teeth, but enough sweetness to take the harsh seashore feel of it off. It’s still hidden, but you have to know how to find it.
Ardbeg Galileo is like having a small bonfire on a rocky short, salt spray in the air, while eating toasted marshmallows that didn’t get burned up by being too close to the fire, but stayed a nice, melty, golden brown.