signatory vintage 100 proof review blair athol glentauchers ben nevis ardmore

Signatory 100 Proof: Ben Nevis, Glentauchers, Blair Athol & Ardmore

The new Signatory Vintage 100 Proof series has everybody talking. Finally, a new range that is squarely aimed at whisky drinkers. Eat your heart out, investors and speculators. And thank you for listening, Signatory Vintage. Today, I’m reviewing 4 early releases from this range: a Ben Nevis, Glentauchers, Blair Athol and Ardmore.

For years now, whisky has only gotten more expensive. We’ve all experienced it. The rising prices didn’t adhere to a normal pattern, outperforming even the recent hefty inflation. Premiumisation was all that seemed to matter to much of the whisky industry. The collective sighs from whisky drinkers were loud enough to shatter ear drums. They didn’t change anything though.

And I’m not naive enough to think our complaints have finally gotten through. It’s our buying behaviour that has changed. And not just ours, but that of most consumers. For years whisky sold itself, no matter the price. But not anymore. I’m confident the Signatory 100 Proof range is a response to that changing market.

The whiskies I’m reviewing here (and I believe all in the range) were introduced at a retail price of 50 euros. That’s good value for money. It reminds me of a decade ago when Van Wees (a Dutch bottler that gets their stock from Signatory) regularly released cask strength gems at proper value.

ben nevis 2019 4 years signatory vintage 100 proof review

Ben Nevis 2019 4 Years (57.1%, Signatory Vintage ‘100 Proof’, 2988 bts.)

Matured in refill Oloroso sherry butts

Nose: Fresh and inviting. Notes of lime, green-ish peat, barley sugar and charred lemon rind. Also a sliver of wet pebbles, some copper coins, sour beer and thick vanilla custard. Finally a hint of tinned pineapple. The refill Oloroso casks are terrifically subtle.
Taste: Oily mouthfeel. Big hits of ashy peat alongside lemon pith and white pepper, but also touches of smoked barley husks, soot and a pinch of salt. A hint of fudge too.
Finish: Medium length. Quite ashy, somewhat waxy and with a nice salinity

Decent enough, but I’m never the biggest fan of ashy, sooty elements in my whisky. This Ben Nevis has more of that than I expected. Quite a lovely nose, a little less complex on the palate.

blair athol 2014 9 years signatory vintage 100 proof review

Blair Athol 2014 9 Years (57.1%, Signatory Vintage ‘100 Proof’, 2680 bts.)

Matured in first-fill Oloroso sherry butts

Nose: Dark, slightly tart. Blackcurrants, aceto di balsamico, Maraschino cherries. Also slivers of cappuccino, soft herbal notes, a pinch of black pepper and some dark chocolate too. Most importantly, no sulphur.
Taste: Plenty of oak, some sandalwood and ginger, but also a touch of meringues, prunes and ristretto. There’s an interesting herbaciousness, highlighted by some crushed mint leaves. The pepper makes an encore too.
Finish: Long with charred oak, coffee and strong chocolate notes. Also some oak spices and herbal bitters.

The cask reigns supreme, but it was a good cask. It’s almost rare to find such a pressure-cooked, sherry-matured whisky without any sulphur influence. I know, that should be standard, but it isn’t. So, kudos. Add a few decimal points if you’re into these kinds of sherry bombs.

ardmore 2010 13 years signatory vintage 100 proof review

Ardmore 2010 13 Years (57.1%, Signatory Vintage ‘100 Proof’, 2804 bts.)

Matured in first-fill Oloroso sherry butts

Nose: Hints of nougat, wood smoke, charcoal and gingerbread, alongside a touch of caramel-glazed apples and some tobacco. Finally whiffs of leather, a slight brackish quality and gentle berries.
Taste: Hints of charcoal, bonfire and baking spices, alongside prosciutto, oranges and a touch of tar. Also slivers of caramel, fudge and smoked paprika powder. Finally a sliver of eucalyptus as well.
Finish: Medium length. Roasted nuts, charcoal, polished leather and cinnamon.

It is the oldest in the lineup. Regardless, I would call this Ardmore from the Signatory Vintage 100 Proof range surprisingly mature for its age. The smoke is present, yet not overwhelming. It has integrated beautifully with the cask influence.

glentauchers 2012 11 years signatory vintage 100 proof review

Glentauchers 2012 11 Years (57.1%, Signatory Vintage ‘100 Proof’, 2988 bts.)

Matured in first-fill Oloroso sherry butts

Nose: Hints of candied cherries alongside jammy apricots and sultanas. Also a sliver of shortbread and oats, as well as peaches and mango gelato. There are some notes of dark caramel too (almost burnt), followed by a sliver of blackcurrants.
Taste: Quite some oomph. A good pinch of white pepper, but we’re quickly returning to a land reigned by sultanas, crème brûlée, and charred oak. Then honey, baking spices and some powdered coffee. There’s a pinch of oregano too, as well as some nutty flavours.
Finish: Medium length. Some macchiato, oak, mango and bitter chocolate.

Inviting nose, in part due to the vibrant fruits interplaying with the sherry casks. Those fruits are more subdued on the palate, otherwise I would've liked this even more. But overall this Glentauchers from the Signatory 100 Proof range is a flavourful single malt. It swims well and I wouldn't be surprised if it develops nicely a few months after you've opened the bottle.

Photos: Whiskybase

Power your creative ideas with pixel-perfect design and cutting-edge technology. Create your beautiful website with Zeen now.