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Friday, January 20, 2023

Things I Really Drink: Ardmore 21 year old 1997 Whisky-Doris, cask 901456

(Ardmore cluster homepage)

Whisky-Doris's white label Ardmore masterpieces were pivotal to my palate's development. It's as if I needed them to show me what I actually like. Ten years ago, I was into BIG flavors. Overwhelming peat, thick sherry influence, or ryes of considerable size. Hyperbolic whiskies led to hyperbolic reviews. But Whisky-Doris's monochrome bottles held '92 Ardmore single malt that dialed the smoke down to 4, citrus up to 6, salt to 5, sweetness to 3......

I just looked back at my last Ardmore TIRD, and discovered I wrote essentially the same thing. It's not that I'm getting old, it's that I tell the same stories over and over. But this habit surely won't worsen with age.

Back to this tale. I bought today's 1997 whisky because Ardmore + Whisky-Doris. It cost 60% more than the '92s did eight years earlier, but I was happy to make questionable monetary decisions during the those early pandemic months because I was depressed AF. Anyway, Ardmore!

Distillery: Ardmore
Region: Highlands (Eastern)
Independent Bottler: Whisky-Doris
Age: 21 years (November 1997 - June 2019)
Maturation: hogshead
Cask #: 901456
Outturn: 180 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 49.4%  ← there's that low abv again!
(from the upper third of my bottle)


The nose starts with peaches, mangoes, and orange peels. Wood smoke, marzipan, and milk chocolate fill in the open spaces. The fruit gradually smothers it all. The palate arrives "totally in tune" (per my notes). Salt + savory + smoke + sweet citrus. "It's kinda perfect." As if more was needed, dried herbal and tart lemon notes grow with time. Ah, the multi-gear finish. First gear: brine, grapefruits, oranges, and a subtle sweetness. Second gear: savory smoke. Third gear: bitter herbs and grapefruit (again).

DILUTED to 46%abv, or ½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose is all wet stones and peaches and bacon and yes. The palate is fruitier, mintier. Plenty of salt and savory remain, but less smoke. The mangoes in the background carry over into the finish, along with ultra-tart citrus and salt.


I treasure this run of excellent TIRD bottles (see here and here and here, and yes I'm ignoring less than excellent bottles, but that's not the point, and this shouldn't be within the parenthetical anyway). As noted above and in a previous post, many '90s Ardmores have curiously low ABVs, no matter who bottles the casks. And it works. I'm also happy to say that this one can take a little bit of water as well. One question remains, will I open my next Ardmore in 2024, or will I be unable to wait that long? Answer: I'll enjoy this one in the moment.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - €160 w/VAT in 2020
Rating - 90

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