After having tried Ardnamurchan’s Inaugural Release early last year, I didn’t particularly felt the need to explore the multitude of releases that came after it, even though I honestly enjoyed their first-ever single malt. But I couldn’t ignore the Ardnamurchan 2014 AD/11:14 CK.390, a single cask bottled especially for The Netherlands.
Ardnamurchan produces two different spirit styles, peated and unpeated. For the peated spirit the barley has a phenol specification of around 30 to 35 ppm. Most (if not all) of the distillery’s small batch releases so far have been a blend of the two spirit types. But from the get-go I’ve been mostly interested in their unpeated spirit. I guess that’s just down to my personal preference.
While I’m participating in several cask shares, those are far from ready to bottle, so the single cask Ardnamurchan 2014 AD/11:14 CK.390 for the Netherlands was a very pleasant surprise. Especially because it is unpeated and matured in a first-fill Pedro Ximénez hogshead. Although come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind trying a bourbon matured Ardnamurchan either. Something tells me that would work a treat.
Speaking of Ardnamurchan, I might finally be able to visit them in a few months time, as I just planned my first trip to Scotland in what will be almost three years by then. While I’ve visited the Ardnamurchan peninsula several times, I’ve never been inside the distillery. Once because it was still under construction, another time because they were unexpectedly closed. To this day I’m still not sure why.
Next time around (which, fingers crossed, should be in May) I’ll be sure to make an ironclad appointment, since Ardnamurchan is one of the new distilleries I get very excited about. Partly because the excellent Adelphi team is behind it, but also because I loved their earlier young spirit releases. I can’t imagine their whisky not being incredible good in a few more years (or decades). And judging by the buzz around the Ardnamurchan 2014 AD/11:14 CK.390, maybe that moment has already arrived.
Ardnamurchan 2014 AD/11:14 CK.390 (58.2%, OB)
Nose: Nutmeg with touches of barley husks, hemp rope and sultanas, as well as some Sauternes and cherry-flavoured candy canes. A bit closed but water might help. Indeed, it brings out notes of dried red fruits as well as some honey. Taste: There’s gingerbread, Maraschino cherries and burnt toast, as well as white pepper and fennel. Whiffs of vanilla too. Not the most complex. Finish: Lingering spices and soft herbal notes combined with caramel-glazed apples. Medium in length.
Ardnamurchan 2014 AD/11:14 CK.390 Conclusion
It has that modern, candy-esque sherry influence that's not entirely to my liking. Nevertheless, the Ardnamurchan 2014 AD/11:14 CK.390 is a relatively polished single malt with some decent fruits and a fair amount of oak influence on the palate. Expectations met? Maybe not, but they might've been too high to begin with.