Ardmore 13yo 1994/2008 (56.8%, Specialty Drinks, The Single Malts of Scotland, Hogshead #65, 303 bottles)

Ardmore, my poor-man’s Brora. Since coming across several Ardmore’s over the time, I see huge potential in this Whisky. Very good spirit, and if it is filled into a cask of equal quality, activity, this stuff can really shine. Just have a look at the three I reviewed earlier. Whiskyman’s 1992 (89 Points), Gordon & MacPhail’s 1993 (87 Points), and finally Mo Ór’s 1992 (84 Points), where the last one was reduced to 46%, Why would one do that? All three were bottled some time ago and the reviews were written a few years back as well, so let’s continue with another one from the past. We move up only one year, since this was distilled in 1994, and bottled some ten years ago.

Color: White Wine.

Nose: Well, this most definitely doesn’t smell like White Wine. Slightly buttery, with vanilla, some soft oak, and a slightly acidic side-note. Typical Hogshead remade with American oak staves. Green, grassy and even slightly meaty. Gravy? Not very peaty and hardly any smoke at all. When searching for peat I’m welcomed by a more fruity and lemony note as well as a leafy and green note. Hmmmm, it is the lemon you get from detergents. Nice oaky note taking over from this little faux-pas though. Pencil shavings even. Yes some peat seems to be coupled with the oak, soon to be followed by the return of the creamy and buttery notes from the start as well as some cold dish water. Remember you washed the dishes yesterday and forgot to pull the plug? This may not be one of those complex Ardmores, since it is clearly from a cask that has been filled several times before. Its friendly and fruity, almost summery in demeanor. Some notes seem a bit off, but pull together just in time. Interesting feat.

Taste: Oak and sawdust first. Hints of pepper. Yeah. Right after the characterful statement, the more fruity, citrussy, notes appear. Almost with a carbonated quality to it. Although very tasty, friendly it is not. Too much alcohol for that. I love the oomph which you can sense does great things to balance this Whisky. Ashtray and nice peat mixed in with the citrus fruit. It switches effortlessly between the (fatty) creamy & woody/cardboardy part and the more fruity acidity. Although not very complex, what it does, it does it good. Quite a long finish, although it maybe better to describe it as a prolonged body, since you get all the aroma’s, all the time. Aftertaste is bitter (wood) and again all of the above. This one fools you into thinking its simple, and fruity, it is, but it is not an easy one, and that’s not only because of the high ABV.

Definitely not your typical Ardmore. Where in the past I called a particular Ardmore a potential Brora, this one most definitely isn’t. This bottling is an interesting Whisky, made form excellent spirit, but not good enough to be a Brora to be. I feel Ardmore is somewhat overlooked and underestimated by its owner Beam Suntory in favour of the other distilleries in their portfolio. Ardmore has to compete with Auchentoshan, (one of the last Lowland distilleries), Laphroaig and Bowmore (big, big Islay brands) and Glen Garioch (Highland), which seems to get a lot more love and attention than Ardmore (also Highland). So Ardmore seems to be the ugly duckling in the portfolio. Maybe Ardmore isn’t getting the best casks the company owns, since the Mo Ór example and this The Single Malts of Scotland offering seem to come from somewhat less active casks, yet still manage to turn out quite good. Apart from this, the official output doesn’t seem to be hurling at the consumer as well. Still, I have a lot of faith in Ardmore, it holds a place on my favourites list. It can be a truly amazing Whisky. As long as it stays under the radar, we have to hunt for examples from the independent bottlers world, that were ‘accidentally’ filled into good casks.

To the people of Ardmore Distillery. Keep doing the excellent work, your moment to shine will come!

Points: 85


Clynelish 32yo 1972/2005 (49.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Hogshead #15619, 226 bottles)

Looking back, I see that two of the last four posts are old Clynelishes. One from 1974 and one from 1973. What could beat that? Well maybe another old Clynelish? Why? Because we can! And this time we’ll do a 1972! Exactly 1972, the year in which the adjacent (old) Clynelish distillery (a.k.a. Brora) reached the stellar quality we all (should) know by now. If you don’t know Brora 1972 by now, prepare to dish out some serious cash to do so, but then again, you might be a Sheik? Clynelish 32yo 1972/2005 (49.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Hogshead #15619, 226 bottles)But that’s Brora, here we have a 1972 Clynelish, so it’s distillate from the then newly built distillery next to Brora…

Color: Light Gold

Nose: Old once (painted) wood. The whole nose has a nice oldness to it. A smell you don’t encounter in more modern malts. Lots of woody caramels. The whole nose has some similarities to the 1973 I reviewed some days ago. This one is more leafy though, and less waxy. It’s not only sweets and woods. Pencil shavings and fresh air. Quite clean. Apple skins, nuts and some flowers. Freesia maybe?

Taste: Wood and a thin kind of waxiness. half sweet and a spicy bite of wood (do I detect a hint of smoke?). The wood doesn’t dominate. Also some hints from the animal kingdom. Something along the lines of a sweating horse. Again the added leafiness. Dry leaves and cold and wet black tea leaves. The body is medium to full, but with a lot of character. Orange skins. The finish is longer than I thought, but also thinner due to the lack of the big sweetness and waxiness a lot of Clynelishes have. Having said that I do like this one. It oozes Whisky from times long gone…

Brora’s from 1972 are special amongst others by the use of peat. This Clynelish lacks that peat. The cask itself didn’t do a lot for the whisky, apart from giving some woody traits to the Whisky. Wood, vanillin, that sort of things. This does allow us to have a glimpse at the distillate of Clynelish.

Points: 90

Clynelish 11yo 1994/2005 (58.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Sherry Butt #4011, 367 bottles)

Clynelish is a very popular dram. There are several reasons why. First of all it’s a sister of Brora, which maybe the best malt of all. Second. Clynelish has a unique waxy personality and it’s spirit is always of high quality. It’s very hard to find one that is not up to par.

Color: Full Gold, almost Orange.

Nose: Clean. Paper and wood. Spice and white pepper. Oranges with almonds and toffee. Leafy, waxy and coastal fresh with some added sherry mustiness. Later on some vanilla ice cream, cardboard and dust. It stays spicy throughout. Perfumy and a beautiful balance.

Taste: Spicy and definitively from a sherry cask. Wood, beer and spice again. Sweet and tarry. Shortbread and gingerlike. Turkish delight and has some traits of a Riesling wine. Full bodied. Slight sour wood and licorice on the finish.

I think it’s a bit of a shame this got bottled so soon. It’s good now, but what would this have been when it wood be several years older. Nothing here suggests its over the top or even near the full potential it could have reached. Nice Clynelish, always worth checking out.

Points: 86