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Cigar Spirits: Ardbeg An Oa Single Malt Scotch Whisky

3 Jan 2018

Once you start exploring Islay single malt scotch whisky, it won’t take too long to find Ardbeg. The classic, non-chill filtered single malt is among Islay’s peatiest, smokiest offerings.

Ardbeg only has a few lines in its core range, which makes it notable when one is added, as the An Oa was last summer. An Oa (pronounced “an oh”) is made by blending Ardbeg aged in different cask types—Pedro Ximinez sherry, virgin oak, and bourbon—and then combining them in a special vatting container.

Ardbeg An Oa (46.6% ABV) pours a gold straw color and the nose features citrus peel, pine, candle wax, and tar. The palate is a whirlwind tour of flavors including raw heat, black pepper, clove, brine, honeysuckle, and ginger. The finish is rather short with graphite, hickory, and light iodine.

At around $60, An Oa costs just a few dollars more than the standard Ardbeg 10 Year ($50) and bit less than Uigeadail and Corryvreckan (both around $80). At a time when new single malts are increasingly expensive, An Oa is fairly priced, even as a NAS (non-age statement) whiskey that clearly uses some younger whisky.

In both price and style, An Oa fits nicely in the lineup. It lacks the intensity and complexity of the Uigeadail or Corryvreckan and, while not as stylistically pure as Ardbeg 10, it is less aggressive and more approachable, making it an excellent whisky for those exploring Islay.

There’s more than enough feistiness in An Oa to stand up to a full-bodied cigar. I’d lean towards pairing it with something spicy like an Arturo Fuente Opus X, My Father, El Galan Dona Nieves, or Cuban Bolivar.

It’s been a very cold winter. If you’re looking for a warming drink (that isn’t actually hot) Ardbeg An Oa fits the bill. And, although it is better neat, it also does well in a hot toddy.

–Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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