...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Autumn Whiskies: Ardmore 13 year old 1990 Gordon & Macphail, cask 12275

Calm yourselves.  Calm yourselves.  Yes, I finally opened a bottle from my Ardmore stash.  For those who don't know, I'm a committed fan of independent Ardmore, specifically of the distillations done before they switched to the indirect heating of their stills in 2002.  I bought several bottles of single cask Ardmore, then guarded them like Smeagol and his ring.  And then this one found its way to freedom.

Being that the whisky lived in the bottle almost as long as it lived in its cask, the expected happened upon opening:
Thanks to my increasing (but still novice) skill at salvaging broken corks, I was able to pluck out the lower half the cork without losing it into the whisky.  As you can see in the background, I have a stash of saved corks with various gauges, and I was able to match up the George T. Stagg closure to this bottle.

Distillery: Ardmore
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Region: Highlands (Eastern)
Type: Single Malt
Age: 13 years old (October 19, 1990 - October 1, 2004)
Maturation: refill bourbon barrel
Cask: 12275
Alcohol by Volume: 58.6%

Its color is of pinot grigio.  A good start.

The nose is very spirity up front.  Barley with a light band-aid peat.  Salt water and beach tones.   Mild horse stable and citronella candle notes.  Soft sugariness meets green grapes and limes.

The palate is a touch hot at first.  There's a moderate sweetness, tart citrus candy, a slight herbal bitterness, and wood smoke.  Hay in a horse stable.  The oak feels more toasted than charred giving it an aromatic spice note I can't pin down, though it reminds me of Spice Tree.  A cayenne pepper bite develops after some time in the glass.

The finish is full of cooling menthol with a little bit of sweetness underneath.  Then wood smoke, herbal bitterness, and the hay in a horse stable note.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The gentler nose picks up more citrus and mint.  The peat mingles nicely with the fruit.  The farmy note remains, now existing alongside a little bit of seaweed.

The palate gets creamier and saltier.  The peat goes peppery, Talisker-style.  A little bit of cocoa floats in the background.

The simple finish becomes more warming, holding onto that peppery peat note.  It's sweeter than the palate, but keeps the nice herbal bitter note.

Thanks to the refill barrel, this Ardmore is youthful without being under-matured.  It may read closer to 8-10 years than almost 14, but it works because the spirit is so damned good.  I would have loved if more fruit had shown up on the palate to give it more complexity and to demonstrate the best Ardmore characteristics.  But still, it has the beachy peat, wood smoke, and good bitterness I like so much.  If you can find this bottle, I think it's worth the $70ish I paid for it two years ago, but definitely not the $125 I saw it selling for elsewhere.  Save that money for an older Ardmore or for groceries.

For another take on this whisky, see Chemistry of the Cocktail's review of this very bottle.  He found more fruits than I, but also more alcoholic heat.

Availability - Happy Hunting!
Pricing - probably all over the place
Rating - 87