ardnamurchan AD 08 18 whisky exchange 1058 review

Ardnamurchan AD/08:18 Cask 1058 (The Whisky Exchange)

What’s in a name? Golden Promise is probably the best name for any barley variety ever. This revered heritage grain immediately conjures up lively images of wavy barley fields. Or a glass of delicious whisky. Or a pint of beer (it was used for brewing too). It’s been around for centuries and isn’t used much anymore, but Ardnamurchan has been doing some limited runs. The result is the new Ardnamurchan AD/08:18, bottled for The Whisky Exchange.

Developed in the 1950s, Golden Promise was first grown commercially in Scotland in 1967. A year later it was placed on the recommended list. And that’s when things snowballed. By 1977 some 70% of spring barley grown in Scotland was Golden Promise. Even more so, Golden Promise accounted for up to 95 per cent of malting barley cultivated in Scotland.

Its use began to decline from the early 1980s, and during the 1990s Golden Promise wasn’t grown much anymore. Nonetheless, Golden Promise is still held in high regard by both distillers and brewers, much like Maris Otter. There’s still a niche market for it, due to its perceived better flavour than modern varieties.

Many whisky drinkers probably know of Golden Promise through Macallan, which I’m not entirely sure they still use. (There doesn’t seem to be a mention of it on their website anymore.) “It always gives an oily, cereal note and robustness which is important to us. In the percentage we use (25 per cent), Golden Promise gives us the balance and profile that we need, and this comes through in the final malt,” said The Macallan’s Bob Dalgarno in a Whisky Magazine article from 2005. “Golden Promise does add something. I’ve seen Golden Promise used with so many different varieties, but you always see the Golden Promise character coming through.”

For more on Golden Promise, I suggest you also read this excellent article on Dramface, where another Golden Promise Ardnamurchan is reviewed as well (a distillery exclusive). If you don’t mind, I’ll now turn my attention to Ardnamurchan AD/08:18 for The Whisky Exchange, matured in a first-fill ex-Oloroso sherry butt made from Spanish oak.

ardnamurchan AD 08 18 whisky exchange 1058

Ardnamurchan AD/08:18 (59.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, C#1058)

Nose: Initially a gentle fizziness almost. Hints of raspberry, Belgian waffles with golden syrup, and some strawberry syrup as well. There’s also a tinge of copper coins – almost a Ben Nevis-esque dirtiness (but not quite). Then lemon drizzle, macadamia nuts and cocoa butter.
Taste: Proper creamy mouthfeel with some spices on arrival. Especially a good pinch of white pepper, but also nutmeg and cloves. There’s a touch of orange pith as well, accompanied by Chocolate pralines and some After Eight’s. Also something slightly earthy. And some cherries too.
Finish: Medium to long. Hints of oaties, some scones and white fruits.

The European oak is fairly present with quite a few oak spices on the palate. I expect this will improve in the bottle once the first few drams are gone. That will give it a chance to breathe a bit. But it's an interesting dram as is, with a complexity that belies its age.

Sample provided by The Whisky Exchange

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