The bottle of 12 year-old Ardbeg Galileo I bought this past weekend didn’t go to space. But the Ardbeg distillery did send molecules into space to study the effects of micro-gravity on the interaction between these molecules and charred oak. Why? Because it’s SCIENCE, bitches. Anyway, the bottle I bought is inspired by this two-year maturation experiment.
Uncorking the bottle, your nose is greeted by a pleasant peat smell. The peat gives way to sweet and spicy notes once you’ve poured the golden-coloured whisky into a glass and let it breathe a bit. The initial taste is a bit sharp – likely due to the 49% ABV – but rich and full on your palate. Adding a bit of water removes some of that sharpness and lets you experience the warmth of the whisky and brings out the tastes of vanilla and toffee. Naturally, there’s the peatiness that follows from the taste but it’s not overpowering (as a contrast, the Ardbeg 10 Year is considerably more peaty). The finish is long and smoky with hints of coffee and espresso along the way. I could easily drink this all night.
I’m not generally drawn to the heavier peated scotches but – like the Caol Ila 12 Year – this is surprisingly enjoyable and I’m really quite happy to have picked up a bottle. Ardbeg’s website reports that the Galileo is out of stock and, judging by what I’ve read online, you may be hard-pressed to find it for much longer.