...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Ardmore 20 year old 1996 Old Malt Cask, cask HL13770

(Ardmore cluster homepage)

I'm fascinated by how many 18-22 year '90s Ardmores are bottled at ~49%abv. It's not just the quick alcohol drop that interests me, it's the consistency. The parcel of '92 indie Ardmores that knocked me out of my boots were all 48-49%abv, and the majority of this cluster's casks are 49-51%. For instance, today's Ardie is part of the Old Malt Cask range that normally bottles its whiskies at a reduced 50%abv, going higher only for exclusive releases. But this one was bottled at 49.3%abv, cask strength. I'm not complaining here. 48-49%abv tends to be the money spot for my palate. Maybe Ardmore and I were meant to be together.

Oops, the sample was completed and the bottle recycled before I took a pic!

Distillery: Ardmore
Region: Highlands (Eastern)
Independent Bottler: Hunter Laing
Range: Old Malt Cask
Age: 20 years (Oct 1996 - Apr 2017)
Maturation: refill hogshead
Cask #: HL 13770
Outturn: 278 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 49.3%
(from a bottle split)


It's a beachy Ardmore, as its nose lifts off with brine and distant rotting kelp. A little bit of mesquite smoke as well. Flowers, bananas, pineapple and yuzu slowly fill it out. The palate is very toasty (nuts and grains) and salty. Shortbread, limes and a mild sweetness in the midground, savoriness and wood smoke in the back. It finishes with limes, shortbread and wood smoke, as well as subtler notes sugar and salt.

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

The nose holds onto its beach note, but picks up some cherries and more smoke. Leaner now, the palate is mostly minerals and cracked pepper. Tarter limes and less sweetness. The finish is all ginger candy and peppercorns.


This is an example of a clean, lean 20 year old single malt with just a touch of oak influence. The palate somehow tops the very good nose. Had the finish more oomph, this could have pushed the 90-point mark. Instead it's merely great. And I'm satisfied with that.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 87