They have commemorative days now for everything: diseases, denim, grape varieties like chardonnay and malbec, and even the Earth itself. Ardbeg, one of the Earth’s greatest whiskies and one of the most shrewdly marketed luxury-spirit brands, has declared itself worthy of a day, too. (To me it sure as heck makes more sense than Malbec Day.) The world’s many enthusiasts of the Scottish brand will raise a toast and nod knowingly in the direction of Islay, its peat-carpeted home island, this year on May 31.
To commemorate Ardbeg Day 2014, the distillery will release a special, limited-edition whisky. It’s called Auriverdes, a concatenation of the Latin root auri meaning “golden” and verdes for green. There’s a double meaning to the reference. First: the golden whisky sealed in Ardbeg’s classic dark-green bottle. Second: Auriverdes is the nickname of many Brazilian sports teams, including the estimable national soccer club, which – in its gold-and-green national colours – will play host to this summer’s World Cup.
So much for nomenclature. The special-release whisky, which will hardly disappoint fans of the distillery’s fantastic and assertively peaty-smoky flagship 10-year-old, has been matured in casks with specially toasted heads (the round disks at either end of a barrel). It’s a powerhouse, but that’s to be expected from Ardbeg, the peatiest brand on the planet. Where the 10-year-old to me has a pronounced bacon, salty-breeze and rounded barley-malt core, this one – at 49.9-per-cent alcohol versus 46 per cent – is spicier, leaning more toward high-toned smoked herbs on dry cereal.
I’m not sure it would go down so well in a sweltering Sao Paulo stadium. But who needs to be in Brazil when you’ve got a bottle of Auriverdes in your home bar? Available in select British Columbia and Alberta stores imminently, it will be released in Ontario and Quebec in September.