We have just managed to get our our hands on Ardbeg’s special release ‘Galileo’ 12yo whisky. The name is inspired by a slightly mad experiment which involved launching some whisky into space in order to find out how much of an impact gravity has on the ageing of a whisky. Although this sounds slightly whimsical, it was actually NanoRacks LLC (a Houston based research company) who approached Ardbeg. They wished to study the interaction between micro-organisms (present in the whisky) and charred oak in an environment with very low gravity and compare the results to the same organisms aged in the normal way at the distillery.
Each year, Ardbeg releases a very low production special edition Whisky and last year’s Alligator was snapped up very quickly. This year, I predict a similar enthusiasm for the Galileo. These special bottlings are the result of the most successful of the distillery’s experiments. Dr. Bill Lumsden, Head of distilling in both Glenmorangie and Ardbeg recently told the Edinburgh Whisky Blog about various trials involving ex-Tokaji and some Brazillian Cherry Wood barrels that he had experimented with, but which he had not released because he was not happy with them. He went on to say that at any given time the Distillery has tens of experimental casks hidden away for future releases.
The Galileo was distilled in 1999 (bottled 2012), aged in ex-Masala casks, is non chill-filtered and is bottled at cask-strength (49%). The bottle itself looks fab and quite Art-Deco. I am going to be grabbing one of these now for a Christmas present (and hopefully be able to try some), as they won’t be around for long.
Aroma: A burst of intense smoky fruit escapes into the atmosphere. Add water and breathe in toasted vanilla, sizzling cinnamon and warm hazelnut.
Taste: An explosion of crackling peat ignites flavour explosions. Tangy lemon and lime juice, spiced toffee, followed by smooth buttermilk, bananas and currants. Smoke brims with creamy cappuccino and toasted marshmallows.
Finish: Long and smoky with tarry espresso.