Ardmore doesn’t have much of a single malt presence. Owner Beam Suntory focuses much more on established brands as Laphroaig and Bowmore, as well as Glen Garioch and Auchentoshan. And you know what? That’s fine with me.
Just let Ardmore operate in the shadows of the Scotch whisky industry. There’s a steady stream of casks that make their way to independent bottlers, who offer them at fairly reasonable prices. That wouldn’t be the case even if Ardmore was at the level of a distillery like Deanston or Aberfeldy. Ardmore just doesn’t rank high on the totem pole of Scotch whisky, which is good for us.
Because Ardmore makes proper single malt. There’s some gems to be found from the early and late 1990s, although lately we’ve seen quite a few Ardmore from 2009, many of which have matured in former Laphroaig casks. One of these casks was releases last year by The Whisky Exchange.
Ardmore 2009 9 Years (58.5%, The Whisky Exchange, C#707912)
Nose: It’s the sweetness that stands out to me more than its smokiness. Tinned pineapple and poached pears at first, although this does quite quickly make way for olive brine and peanut skins. There’s a medicinal touch in there somewhere. Taste: Pretty coastal with some interesting iodine and saline notes, most likely from the ex-Lahproaig cask. The gentle sweetness combines well with the smoke, but it’s also a pretty fiery dram with quite a bit of pepper-y heat. Finish: Lingering nuttines and touches of smoke. Pretty long.
The Laphroaig influence is a little too much for me—especially on the palate—overpowering the Ardmore spirit that I’ve really come to appreciate. It’s a good whisky, but I suspect there’s a reason Ardmore (and Beam Suntory) were happy to sell a big parcel of 2009 ex-Laphroaig matured casks to brokers and bottlers.