ardnahoe inaugural release first bottling review

Ardnahoe Inaugural Release (2024)

Almost every website I frequent has already written about the Ardnahoe Inaugural Release. I’m a bit late to the party. Then again, I was always taught it’s cool to be late. Let’s just pretend I intentionally waited to publish about Ardnahoe’s first bottling.

(In reality, it just took me some time to source a sample. Many thanks to Robbert!)

Almost seven years ago now, I briefly interviewed Business Development Director Scott Laing about their plans for Ardnahoe, which at the time was far from finished being build. I’d almost forgotten about it, until I started sipping the Ardnahoe Inaugural Release and some snippets of our conversation came back.

ardnahoe inaugural release first bottling closeup

So, I went and checked my transcript to find something interesting. Preferably a quote or two I hadn’t already used at the time for my article on Distiller. As I mentioned above, it was a short conversation, so I’m not drowning in left-over quotes. But this stood out me:

“We won’t wait a very long time [to release something]. We’ll probably release something after 3,5 or 4 years. That’ll give people the opportunity to get to know Ardnahoe, and to envision what our older whisky will be like. What we won’t do is release a spirit. Right now we want to wait until it is whisky.”

The Laing family certainly didn’t rush to market. Considering they started filling casks in November 2018, they could’ve released something in 2022. Judging by that quote that’s what they had in mind. But minds are there to be changed. It’s a good thing they waited, because it presumably meant they prioritised quality.

ardnahoe inaugural release first bottling

Ardnahoe Inaugural Release (50%, OB, 2024)

Nose: Hints of barbecue-grilled beef, bonfire and smoked paprika powder. A more mellow, and yes, also a more mature peat influence than I expected. It’s slightly earthy at times, but there are also whiffs of rum raisins, baked bananas, apricots and figs. Finally, a mellow ozone aroma.
Taste: Mouthfeel is maybe not as rich as I’d like. Quite a bit of pepper-y heat on arrival, alongside ashes, grilled pineapples and a touch of dark chocolate. Also soot and lemon peel, as well as pomelo.
Finish: Medium length. Somewhat dry, hints of custard and a whisper of smoked oysters.

Certainly up there in terms of first bottlings, the Ardnahoe Inaugural Release doesn't come across as young or immature. Instead, it's a well-developed single malt that can hold its own with some Islay's more illustrious names.
ardnahoe inaugural release first bottling distillery

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