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Thursday, January 12, 2023

Ardmore 22 year old 1997 SMWS 66.168

(Ardmore cluster homepage)

In Tuesday's post, I wrote, "On Thursday, the 23rd of October 1997......at least 20 refill hogsheads were filled with Ardmore distillery's newmake, hogsheads destined for Scotch Malt Whisky Society's warehouses." The first eight of that cask score was released as is, no finishes. But the next 12 were finished in wine or fortified wine casks. Did SMWS get bored? Did SMWS members get bored? Did the casks get bored?

All four of the casks I'm reviewing this week (plus the one I reviewed in 2020) were part of that first group of eight refill hoggies. Though I'm not religiously opposed to those finished whiskies, I'm also not feeling terribly motivated to source samples. I'm more interested in trying the direct-fired spirit after a two decade nap. The spirit's nap, I mean. Though I could really use a two decade nap right about now.

Distillery: Ardmore
Region: Highlands (Eastern)
Independent Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 22 years (23 October 1997 - ???)
Maturation: refill bourbon hogshead
Cask#: 66.168, "Wafts you to heaven"
Outturn: 287 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 51.6%
(from a bottle split)


Blunt smoke mixing with briny beach air, a good way to start a nose. Dried apricots, honey, and nutritional yeast fill the background. The mineral palate has mild bitter and sweet notes, hints of orange and ginger. Some wood smoke. It gets equally sweeter and bitterer with time. It finishes with a honey and dried apricot sweetness, some ginger zippiness, and a whiff of smoke.

DILUTED to 46%abv, or ¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

It smells like it's going to be a real sweetie, full of mangoes, honey, and coconut cream. Reads mossier than smoky. Some molasses in the back. Sure enough, it's a peated sugar cookie on the simple palate. Hints of cigars and dried thyme, here and there. Like the palate, the finish is simpler, with quiet notes of oranges, ginger, and cigars.


A simple huggable Ardmore, cask 66.168 is tough to criticize and even harder to swoon for. But it does what it needs to do, especially since it was sold in an era when 20+ year old single casks didn't cost 250 quid. An era that was a mere three years ago. Anyway, you've heard that song already. I preferred this whisky neat, though the nose works very well either way.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - around £130 in 2020?
Rating - 86

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