This site has reviewed a couple of Ardmore’s now and all have been pretty weird and unusual. Not least the Claxton’s Ardmore 8 Year Old for A Dram A Day from last year which was matured in an ex-Laphroaig quarter cask. However, there was one bottle which wasn’t weird but sweet, enjoyable and smoky and that was the official Ardmore 12 Year Old Port Wood Finish. With that being so interesting I thought I would grab a sample of the less well known Traditional Cask bottling which used to be on general sale and is now a Travel Retail only offering.
The Ardmore Traditional is bottled at 46% ABV which is good but is artificially coloured. I remember the Claxton’s bottle being almost completely transparent so perhaps that is the reason why. The whisky doesn’t have an age statement so is probably pretty young. We can guess this because it is also double matured in regular sized ex-bourbon barrels and quarter casks which being smaller speed up the flavour maturation in the whisky. Interestingly quarter casks arenow well known in Laphroaig bottles and Ardmore and Laphroaig share a parent company (Beam Suntory) so you can imagine them both using the same source. The best news is that each bottle is unchill-filtered which means we can hope for a good texture to the whisky. A bottled will cost you around the £50 mark if you can find it.
Colour – E150a enhanced orangeness
Nose – very subtle and closed in the glass. A touch of honey and vanilla but very little smoke. In time something like sea-spray and a whisper of smoke drifts out.
Palate – The smoke is much more apparent now. It is quite a different and interesting smoke flavour though than say an Islay. It is less medicinal or earthy but woody and campfires with smouldering embers late at night. The texture is pretty thin though which is quite surprising having used only a tiny amount of water and it being NCF. Behind the smoke is just a hint of some vanilla wood but the overall experience is not hot or harsh
Finish – The smoke lingers but falls of a cliff pretty quickly. The last gasps are quite sweet and honeyed though with only a touch of gritty ash poking through.
The Ardmore Traditional is all about the peated spirit with only a minimal cask influence. The spirit is indeed very interesting and flavourful though which makes this work. The lack of heat or harshness is a sign of a well made product which this and it is just a shame it’s so difficult to find now. Although, for £50 there is a lot of other options out there. For me it is probably a tenner overpriced given the triple wood is £60 a litre.