I remember when a few years ago Adelphi released an Ardnamurchan 2015 Years in partnership with MacLean & Bruce. It may even have been the first independent bottling of Ardnamurchan? But alas, they didn’t ship outside of the UK and I didn’t think it worth the hassle.
So, it took a while, but I managed to secure a sample. I had to go all the way to Ardnamurchan Distillery for it though! That’s usually not the lengths I go to for a certain whisky, and to be fair, I didn’t travel to Scotland just to pick up a sample of this Ardnamurchan release. I was on holiday staying near Ardnamurchan, figured I’d squeeze in a visit, and they had this bottling open in their upstairs bar. Let’s call it kismet.
This Ardnamurchan 2015 5 Years is a vatting of two Oloroso sherry butts. The name MacLean & Bruce might ring a bell. Their partnership with Ardnamurchan is no coincidence. Indeed, this is Charlie MacLean’s luxury travel company, he of the many exemplary books on whisky.
And what about the surname Bruce? That would be Vikki Bruce, with whom Charlie jointly set up the company. Vikki is Alex Bruce‘s wife, who is managing director of Adelphi, the independent bottler that owns Ardnamurchan Distillery. And Charlie MacLean is also known as Adelphi’s ‘nose’ and has responsibility for helping with the bottler’s cask selection.
In short, it makes a lot of sense that the first independent bottling of Ardnamurchan would be by Adelphi and done for MacLean & Bruce. And you can bet that they where really careful about selecting some of the best that Ardnamurchan has to offer.
Ardnamurchan 2015 5 Years (59.3%, Adelphi for MacLean & Bruce, C#332+333)
Nose: A very savoury initial impression with nutmeg, orange marmalade, smoked bacon and even whiffs of liquorice root, some medicinal peat and fennel. Plenty of nutmeg, chestnut and tobacco, but also roasted almonds, chocolate and sandalwood. Extremely enticing. Taste: Oily mouthfeel, plenty of ginger and a decent salinity as well, accompanied charred lemon peel, liquorice, and burlap. Finish: Some chocolate-y notes, mocha and char, but also green tea. Long and appealing.
There's a lot to like here. Bruce & MacLean have picked two excellent sherry butts. I suspect one peated and the other one unpeated, much like the official bottlings are often roughly 50/50 that way. In any respect, it really works. This 5-year-old Ardnamurchan is an admirable single malt from a distillery that I'm coming to admire more with each whisky I try from them. Not that they need me to – their reputation is excellent as is.