Review: Ardbeg Spectacular

Ardbeg Day 2024 was just upon us, and with it has come a new Committee Release creation from the madmen of Islay: Ardbeg Spectacular, the first ever Ardbeg aged in Port wine casks. It’s not a mere finishing regimen: This expression is wholly aged in Port barrels, though there’s no age statement on offer.

I think Ardbeg is at its best when it leans into its sweeter elements, and Spectacular does just that. The nose bursts with fruit and quickly goes beyond the expectations of raisins and plums, folding in dark chocolate and an intense floral quality that evokes orange blossoms and a touch of mint. The combination is intoxicating when paired with the underlying peat, here lightly maritime and not at all ashy, which gives the experience something of a campfire s’mores quality, complete with well-toasted marshmallow.

It’s a whisky I had trouble pulling away from my nose, but eventually there had to be a time to take a sip. The palate isn’t quite as enchanting, but it’s got ample charm — alongside a different overall approach. Duskier and more sooty, there’s a vein of creosote that leans into Ardbeg’s reputation for peat more heavily than the nose even remotely suggests. The chocolate takes center stage but in its darkest possible format, backed up by torched caramel notes, well-roasted hazelnuts, and an incense-driven floral quality. The finish finally brings on the sweetest notes of the experience — heavy with raisins and some dates — taking the experience full circle.

The journey is a worthwhile — and unexpected — one, making this one of my favorite Ardbegs ever.

92 proof.


Ardbeg Spectacular




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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