*Thanks to the good folks at Impex Beverages for the sample.
The Highland version of Ardmore (in the early 1800’s there was an Ardmore distillery on Islay that was eventually bought by Lagavulin) was built in 1898 by Adam Teacher, the son of Teacher’s Highland Cream founder William Teacher. It’s distinct, peated Highland character instantly became the main malt in the popular blend and remains so today. Ardmore is one of the largest distilleries in Scotland, yet sadly, only three distillery bottlings ever see the light of day these days: the great bang-for-yer-buck Traditional Cask and the delicious 25 and 30 year olds. This 194 bottle independent bottling from Ian Macleod’s Chieftain’s range was matured in an ex-bourbon barrel and, like all Chieftain’s releases, is non chill-filtered with no added coloring.
The Nose: Soft, buttery, restrained nose, a little canned fruit cocktail and lots of cherries, from the sweet fruit to the more bitter skin, a bit of cherry pie even. Slight smoke and slight earthy, slightly minty, medicinal peat. Softer than expected polished oak notes with slight hints of sourbread dough.
The Palate: More creaminess with a chocolate malt sweetness that quickly becomes spicy; cinnamon & ginger, clove & nutmeg. Oaky tannins grow more and more drying and are joined by a swell of dry peat smoke. Feels a little hot and spirity going in to the finish even with a bit of water.
The Finish: Sweetened, soft peat, a little more smoke, drying oak, longish.
Thoughts: I’d never guess this was an 18 year old Ardmore, I was expecting more peated richness than I found. An interestingly subtle nose, mildly complex but you have to work for it. The palate shows the 18 years in wood more but in a hot, spirity fashion…it still has a youthful feel. Nice baking spices and sweetness, and nice peat smoke towards the end but all in all a little disjointed feeling to me.
Chieftain’s 1992 Ardmore 18 Year Old