When you think about peated whisky you rarely think about the Highland region and Ardmore is never close to the top of anyone’s mind. However, Islay should not and does not have a monopoly on peated whiskies.

Speaking of Monopoly have you seen the Islay version from a few years ago. I have been on the lookout for the game for a while now and there is none to be found. Hit me up with a message if you know of one for sale somewhere I might be interested. Mrs Malted totally owns me at it with years of experience of real life business but its still (mostly) fun.

The Distillery

The ardmore distillery is a large Victorian distillery in the Aberdeen-shire area of the Highlands. Located right on the railway line to maximise efficiency in 1898 when the distillery was built.

Ardmore has always been a mass producer distillery for the blended market. The teachers blend using the slightly peated malt quite heavily is the most obvious destination for Ardmore. This has lead to very few official bottlings with Beam Suntory being the first to market the brand when it bought both it and Laphroaig in 2006.

The Dram

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The 1996 Vintage 20 year old is the first new release from a distillery in a while. I have reviewed the core range 12 year old and enjoyed the rich port finish. The 20 year old includes a finish as well but this time using ex-islay casks after the initial long maturation in ex-bourbon barrels. The use of ex-Islay casks would be used to boost the peated profile but the big sell is the price at a mere £65 especially given the strength of 49.3% ABV.

Tasting Notes

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Colour – Straw

Nose – Lots of pepper and cardamom seeds. Quite an ester-y nose which combined with pepper can be both sweet and harsh. A good about of vanilla, biscuit and bitter chocolate in there to. The one note I picked out which is unusual for me is herbs of Rosemary and Thyme

Palate – The peat which wasn’t around in the nose appears in the palate. The texture is quite thin and the development is pretty harsh. The peating is a burning rubbery note throughout the whole experience which is dominated by a lemon or citric sherbet sweet

Finish – The finish is long and of burning fires and chimney smoke. There is a floral brine note which reminds me of Bowmore so perhaps that is where the barrels came from.  Kippers and lemons continue the theme with quite a lot of dry stale tobacco smoke.

Final Thoughts

Good value is something I haven’t been able to find much of recently. I fact I cannot remember the last time I bought a bottle of whisky and that is mostly because of the pricing. Ardmore 20 is great value and while its rough and boisterous those are qualities to be admired not criticised. If the casks were from Bowmore like I am guessing above they might be I will tell you this. They did more good for Ardmore than they did for any official Bowmore I have tried in the last two years.

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