...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Ardmore 20 year old 1997 SMWS 66.137

If a 1980s hogshead can't force me to release my grip on 90 points for an Ardmore, then what chance have these other two Ardies?

At least today's whisky also spent two decades in a hogshead. And the SMWS scriveners have dubbed it "Dirty but good." I'm not going to travel down the "Nudge nudge. Nudge nudge. Know what I mean? Say no more. Know what I mean?" path, but whatever happened to "Dirty and Good"? Or did they mean, "Dirty butt, good"? The mysteries of life.

Distillery: Ardmore (SMWS 66)
Ownership: Beam Suntory
Region: Highlands (Eastern)
Independent Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 20 years (23 October 1997 - 2018)
Maturation: refill hogshead
Cask#: 66.137
Outturn: 292
'Quirky' name: Dirty but good
Alcohol by Volume: 54.7%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a bottle split)

The nose begins very salty and sort of savory, like seaweed and kelp. Then there are some cashews, wet sand, sesame seeds and burlap. Was this supposed to be the dirty part? A swirl of peat and dried herbs (oregano, thyme and bay leaf) greet the palate first. Small doses of salt, pepper, stones and weed follow. Malt and ginger beer float in the background. This was actually very clean. It finishes with dried herbs, black pepper, pickled ginger and the palate's two stony notes.

Maybe some water will filthy it up.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or >1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose might be a little farmier, though I am digging deep to find the dirt. It's more on walnuts than cashews now. A sprinkle of brown sugar. The palate hasn't changed much. It's a slightly sweeter and saltier, and has picked up a drip of sesame oil. Not much change in the finish. Maybe more pepper and salt.

This is clean and good with nothing dirty about it. That's not a problem. Or is it? This 20yo Ardmore proves to be a solid, spirit-forward herbal peater that'll do the job in any cold weather. In fact there are a lot of refill cask Ardmores from the late '90s that consistently hit this mark. Boringly great, I guess. Maybe this dirty boy longs for some grit and grunge. For those afeared of the weird, you'll be okay with this whisky.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - was £95 in 2018
Rating - 86