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Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Ardmore 23 year old 1997 SMWS 66.191

It's time to continue my exploration into the 20+ SMWS Ardmore sibling casks that were all distilled on the 23rd of October 1997. As I've progressed through these casks, the SMWS numbers and ages have increased. The four I'll review this week are all 23 years old, and have been finished in aggressive-sounding casks. I like the former, not too sure about the latter. First up, an Ardmore with a rejuvenated-cask finish.

Distillery: Ardmore
Region: Highlands (Eastern)
Independent Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 23 years (23 October 1997 - ???)
Maturation: hogshead first, then an STR Oloroso barrique finish
Cask#: 66.191, "Smoky dark cajun roux"
Outturn: 240 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 49.2%
(from a bottle split)


The nose starts with a gentle nuttiness (hazels and brazils), followed by almond extract and dates. Mushrooms in the middle, peat waaaaaay in the back. Small notes of peach candy and carob show up after 30+ minutes. The palate begins with a mix of vanilla, bitter cocoa, dates, and dried apricots. More peppery than peaty, it also gets sweeter with time. It finishes very sweetly, almost like a mix of ginger ale and cream soda. Lime and wood smoke wait in the background.

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

The nose becomes more sugary: milk chocolate, toffee, cream soda, and ginger candy. Toasted oak fills the middle, black walnuts wait in the back. The palate is as sweet as expected. Caramel and oak spice up front, ginger and lime behind. It finishes with lime, oak spice, and sugar.


I do not understand why anyone would do this to Ardmore single malt. While this whisky is approachable and palatable, especially for a sweet-tooth, it's also generic. The finishing cask neutered whatever was poured into it. It's just X whisky in an STR oloroso cask. What's the point of that? Was the first maturation that bad? Or was SMWS worried that the lean mean Highland machine known as Ardmore wouldn't be loud enough for their customers' palates? This does not fill me with confidence about the other three this week...

Availability - 
Sold out

Pricing - ???
Rating - 81 (neat only, in the low-to-mid 70s when diluted)