Of all the new distilleries built in Scotland over the past two decades, Ardnamurchan has certainly carved out a very nice role for itself. And now they’re also wanting a slice of the fully sherry-matured, high-strength whisky market. The new Ardnamurchan AD/ Sherry Cask Release comes highly anticipated, but also offers something different than its most direct competitors.
Secondly, all the aforementioned “competitors” are from Speyside. Ardnamurchan very much embraces a more classic Highland style. This is most eminent in their use of peated malt. For example, this first batch of the Ardnamurchan AD/ Sherry Cask Release consists of 25 casks in total: 15 hogsheads with unpeated spirit, and 10 butts with peated new make.
There’s a QR code on the back label of the Ardnamurchan AD/ Sherry Cask Release, which leads to this detailed page with all kinds of geeky information, including the exact cask recipe. You’ll be interested to know that all of the casks were filled in 2018, which makes the Ardnamurchan AD/ Sherry Cask Release approximately 5 years old.
Furthermore, the unpeated spirit matured in a combination of Spanish Oak ex-Pedro Ximenez hogsheads, American Oak ex-Oloroso hogsheads, and Spanish Oak ex-Oloroso hogsheads. The peated spirit matured entirely in Spanish Oak ex-Oloroso butts.
Nose: Initially a big, meaty dram with charred beef, barbecue smoke, and charcoal leading the way, but eventually making way for gentler, fruitier notes such as prunes, raisins and dates. Also a touch of varnish, roasted peanuts, and dried herbs, alongside gentle coastal touches. Taste: Velvety mouthfeel. It’s the tar, dry smoke and charcoal that stand out initially. But there are notes of cigar boxes, cinnamon buns and darker fruits. Finally a touch of dark chocolate, as well as some licorice root. Finish: Medium length. Smouldering with a mixture of oak spices and salted caramel.
Maybe not exactly heavily peated, but neither is the peat very subtle. On the palate that is. It's clearly on the younger side, but never immature, which is the key takeaway. While it's already good and balances the sherry and peat relatively well, there's still a way up for Ardnamurchan, which makes me very excited for their future.