The Ardbeg Galileo is one scotch that has fascinated me and has been on my wishlist to try for quite some time now. The thought of “space aging” really piqued my interest as somebody who as a child wanted to be an astronaut. So when I saw it on the whisky list at The Auld Alliance in Singapore, I had to try it!
Now, let’s be honest for a moment, is this whisky really “aged in space?” Well, not this bottle. Ardbeg did send some portion of whisky into space to see what effect gravity has on the maturation process. Ardbeg also kept a sample from the same vatting on Earth to see if there were any differences between the “space aged” and the “earth aged” samples. Interestingly, the master-distillers at Ardbeg said there was a slight difference. Unfortunately, the whisky aged in space didn’t make it into this vatting.
The whisky itself is a 12 year old expression aged in ex-Marsala and ex-Bourbon casks from 1999, bottled in 2012. The release was limited to 15,000 bottles and is quite difficult to find now (and usually commands a hefty price tag if you do find it.)
As with some of the Ardbeg special releases, the Galileo is more creative marketing from their marketing department. I’d like it on my shelf, but is it really worth the $400+ USD price point? Not really, the Corryvreckan and Uigedail are better – especially at 1/4 of the cost. Maybe if it were actually aged in space, then I’d pay the premium for it.
Outturn: 15,000 bottles
Mashbill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask Type: Ex-Marsala and ex-Bourbon casks
Age: 12 Years
Chill Filtered: No
Color Added: No
Glass for Review: Riedel Vinum (rest for 10 minutes)
Nose: Peaty, iodine, ripe fruits, raisins, slight essence of smoke
Palate: Sweet and saltiness immediately, slowly followed by sweet plum and raisins, light tart notes, and hints of smoke – not the peat bomb typical of Ardbeg
Finish: Spicy and smokiness, leaving hints of dried fruits
Overall: It’s not quite Corryvreckand or Uigeadail, which seem to be the baseline for which all Ardbeg’s are compared against. The hype about being part of the Ardbeg space trials has a “cool factor”. While a delicious dram with interesting complexity, whether it’s worth the price tag is debatable. Would I like it on the shelf? Absolutely, but there are others on my list first.
Average Price: $400+ USD