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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ardmore 14 year old 2002 Gordon & MacPhail Cask Strength

I did mention, back in January, that I was going to have to start opening up more Ardmore bottles from my stash. So, I did. The good news about this Ardmore is that it's currently for sale (overseas), having been released back in December. A relevant Ardmore, how about that? It's also one of the few sherried Ardmores I've seen since I became a Ardman.

I've been hesitant to buy Ardmores distilled from 2002 and later because 2002 was the year the distillery switched over from direct-heated stills (they were amongst the last five distilleries to utilize that old practice) to regular steam coil heated stills. The Ardies I've had from this new era have been uninspiring, though that may be due to the fact that most of them are super duper young.

So yes, this is another review from one of my own bottles!

Distillery: Ardmore
Region: Highlands (Eastern)
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Series: Cask Strength
Type: Single Malt
Age: 14 years old (July 1, 2002 - October 27, 2016)
Maturation: three refill sherry hogsheads
Casks: 935, 936 and 938
Alcohol by Volume: 57.5%
(Sample from bottle's midpoint)

Its color is a medium gold. The nose has waves of both medicinal and sugary peat. In fact it's peatier than officially bottled Bowmores. Salty beach notes. Lots of dry sherry. Creamy vanilla pudding. Ham. Lemon juice. After 30 minutes, the peat retreats, revealing toffee and milk chocolate notes. Surprisingly big sherry and big peat notes in the palate. Berry syrup and mint leaves. Fresh ginger and a nice peppery bitter bite. Dried berries and currants in the finish. Plenty of black pepper. Dry red wine and softer peat.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
Now the sherry backs off in the nose. Anise, citronella and roses. Salty subtler peat and roasted grains. Cherry shisha. The palate is both sweet and bitter. Slightly tarry. Sherry, ginger, peppercorns, pencil lead and burnt notes. It finishes salty and ashy. Sherry, apricots and pencil lead.

This whisky is big big big stuff. It's, by far, the most sherried Ardmore I've had. The palate is very loud and the nose is always entertaining. Dilution drastically shifts the nose, but is equally as enjoyable. I'm not a fan of the pencil lead note that comes out in the palate, so I prefer it neat, overall.

It's been a fun Ardmore ever since I opened it, though it's a much different whisky than the early '90s Ardmores I adore. This difference seems to caused by the casks rather than any changes in the distillate. It will probably appeal to fans of recent Ardbeg Uigeadails and some of the sherried Ledaigs, but probably not to drinkers looking for subtlety. I'll enjoy this whisky for its own charms (thus the nice score), but I do prefer the bourbon casks from the previous decade.

Availability - European retailers
Pricing - I think this was less than $85, with shipping included
Rating - 86 (neat only)

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