Bottler: Official Bottling
Cask: Quarter Cask Finish
Colour: Gold. Not too unnatural looking, I guess this is a case of using E150 to create batches consistent in colour.
Ah yes, this is a peated malt indeed. The nose immediately gives it away. Not too much smoke and not too little. I’d put this at Longrow ppm levels. Mainland peat too, it’s more of the bonfire than the iodine, phenolic Islay style. But what else is there besides the peat smoke? Orange juice and orange oil with darker elements (roasted nuts, roasted malts, dark toffee) lurking underneath. A drop of water opens the nose up and sweetens it but it doesn’t really change its profile. The palate is a well-rounded mixture of malt sweetness, caramel and vanilla pudding, cocoa, raisins, coffee powder and roasted nuts. Dark, sweet, juicy. Oh, and there’s the lingering smokiness in the background. Very approachable undiluted. The finish is in line with the palate. Malt sweetness: check. Dark fruits: check. Smoke: check. Lingering: Check. What’s not to like?
Since it was announced Ardmore would discontinue this hugely popular bottling with a different NAS, 40% ABV “Legacy” one I found it only fitting to see what we’ll be missing in the future – at least until it might be re-introduced (dare I say at almost certainly a higher price point?).
All in all we have a definite winner here! Especially considering the price point of oftentimes under 25€ this is a budget malt with a bang. In this price range (and above) you usually get rather weak, diluted, chill-filtered and heavily coloured malts at 40% ABV. None of this is the case here. It is full-flavoured, bottled at 46% and overall very well made. While I am reviewing a version bottled around 2011 (and opened for about a year now) I can safely say this is a winner in the budget and daily dram category, rivaling many much more expensive malts. This is also an example of a NAS whisky that works, probably also thanks to the flavour-boost from the smaller quarter casks which mature the spirit much more quickly than larger casks due to more wood surface area per liter.
Go buy one (or a case) now while you still can. I will.