Last Wednesday, I took part in a Tweet Tasting of The Ardmore Whisky. In the year of running this blog and ten years of drinking whisky, there aren’t many that haven’t passed my lips, but Ardmore was still able to lay claim to that rare title. Until last week, of course.
Ardmore Distillery is located in Aberdeenshire and was built in 1898 to ensure a secure supply of whisky for Teacher’s Highland Cream. The site remained very traditional up until just recently, with its own cooperage until the late 1980s and eight coal-fired still until 2001. Beam Suntory became the distillery’s owners in 2005, increasing production from three to 5.1 million litres and relaunching the range in 2007, with four expressions sampled during the Tweet Tasting.
The Ardmore Legacy – 40% ABV
The Ardmore Legacy was introduced in 2015 as a replacement for the popular Traditional and is made with a split of 80% peated malt and 20% unpeated malt. This large portion of peated malt comes through on the nose, which is a surprise to find in a Speysider. Beyond the smoke, the heather and honey mix reminds me of William Bros’ Fraoch Ale – no bad thing in my book! On the palate, it’s light and velvety, with an almond-y sweetness which is almost like marzipan. The smoke managed to behave itself and there’s a short finish.
The Ardmore Tradition – 46% ABV
The Tradition is the first of two global duty free bottlings in this range and is seen as an “evolution” of the existing Traditional bottling…although that was replaced by The Legacy. Confused yet? Anyway, The Tradition is matured in oak barrels, then quarter casks, which appears to tame the smoke and replace it with spice and vanilla. On the palate though, it bursts into life! Who knows where all this smoke was hiding, with lots of vanilla piled on top and a final hit of smoke.
The Ardmore Triple Wood – 46%
The second duty free bottling, the triple wood has, as you might expect, been triple matured in three types of wood – American oak barrels, quarter casks and puncheons. All this wood gives it lots of spicy flavours on the nose – nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. There’s still some soft peat hanging in there too, with a drop of honey. Again, this is another dram that comes to life on the palate. Packed full of warmth and sweetness, the lacing of peat smoke makes sure to keep it grounded.
The Ardmore Port Wood Finish – 46% ABV
The latest addition to the range, the Port Wood is matured for 12 years in traditional American white oak Bourbon barrels and then finished in European half port pipes. The initial impression is a strange one – strawberries and black pepper. Not necessarily a bad one though. The nose then gives way to the spicier and sweeter influences of the Port. This strawberry transfers onto the palate, with warming honey and the tiniest hint of smoke at the end.
The final two in this range were my favourites, but due to the depth of flavour, the Triple Wood just wins it for me. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the whole range next time you are out and about…or passing through your local airport.