...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Brief History of Ardmore Distillery (Part 1), plus a review of Ardmore 16 year old 1998 G&M for Binny's


At the ripe old age of 19, William Teacher secured a liquor license for the grocery store owned by his girlfriend's (and wife-to-be's) mother. Around the time of his 25th birthday, he'd opened his own store, a 'dram shop'. By the time William was 40, there were 20 Teacher's Dram Shops throughout Glasgow, and he had moved into the wholesale wine and spirits business. In his time away from liquor commerce, William became a frequent pen pal of Ralph Waldo Emerson and a number of Scottish socialist leaders.

At the time of his death in 1876, William Teacher was had the largest pub business in Glasgow. His sons, William II and Adam, joined the family company in 1875, forming William Teacher & Sons. Over the next several years the sons experimented with in-house blending until they honed their craft. William II passed away in 1880. In 1884, Adam and company registered Teacher's Highland Cream, a blended whisky, and began selling it widely.

Such was Teacher's Highland Cream's success, the company was soon in need of a larger source of malt whisky. William Teacher & Sons broke ground on Ardmore Distillery in Aberdeenshire in 1898.

...stay tuned for Part 2 on Wednesday.

MacLean, Charles. Whiskypedia. A Compendium of Scotch Whisky. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2010.
MacLean, Charles. Scotch Whisky, A Liquid History. London, UK: Cassell Illustrated, 2005.
Ronde, Ingvar (Ed.). Malt Whisky Yearbook 2016. Shropshire, UK: MagDig Media. 2015.
Roskrow, Dominic (Ed.). 1001 Whiskies You Must Taste Before You Die. New York, NY: Universe Publishing. 2012.

Ardmore 16 year old 1998 G&M for Binny's

Distillery: Ardmore
Region: Highlands (Eastern)
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Age: 16 years (September 7, 1998 - August 2015)
Maturation: refill sherry hogshead
Cask number5587
Exclusively for: Binny's
Alcohol by Volume: 55.5%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No
Sample obtained in a swap with My Annoying Opinions. Thank you!

Its color is a reddish brown, another loaded "refill" sherry cask? The nose begins with orange peel, toffee and seawater. It's slightly raisiny, but otherwise the sherry is light and dry. It's nutty with an herbal edge. Citronella candles and roses. A hint of smoked salmon. The palate is full of hardy, tarry, green herbal peat. Intensely bitter at times. Earthy and mineral. Limes, cocoa powder and a chili oil bite. The peat grows more rugged in the long finish. Bitter herbs, burnt plastic. Sweetness eventually emerges.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose is a little meatier. More nuts and salt. Anise, tar, lemons, citronella candles (again) and a hint of canned peaches. There's bitter cocoa and bitter herbs with tarry peat in the palate. This meets the toffee, honey and tropical fruit notes well. The straightforward finish is of nuts, honey, salt and bitter smoke.

The nose has more classic wood smoke, ash and vanilla. A few pears in the mix. No sherry. The palate is sweeter, but also briny. The bitterness has cooled down. Plenty of vanilla, ginger ale and limes. More vanilla in the sweet finish. Caramel, limes and a slight bitterness.

A good whisky with a curious cask. Its nose first told of a peatless Ardmore, but the palate spun the opposite story. As water was added, the two grew closer. It's a brisk, sharp Ardmore that will appeal to fans of austere, earthy, bitter whiskies. I'm always a fan of this type, though at times its edge approached my limit. But I really like its meanness and I respect Binny's for selecting this unsexy single cask. There's really not much sherry to speak of, which isn't a bad thing. The more the whisky is diluted, the more American oak character appears. I prefer it neat.

Even as someone who chases nearly every new Ardmore release, I find its $120 price tag concerning. Then again, the younger Exclusive Malts Ardmore single casks are going for the same price. I won't be buying any of them. If Binny's ever puts this single cask on sale for less than $100, I may be able to recommend it then.

Availability - Binny's only, and still fully available as of the date of this post
Pricing - $120
Rating - 87