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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Ardmore 16 year old 1997 Cadenhead Small Batch

Weekends with two wee critters are chaos, free time is scarce right now. There are some quiet moments in the middle of Saturday and Sunday that are generally free. On Sunday I took a nap (WORD!). On Saturday I tried all three of this week's Ardmores.

This week's first Ardmore was a success. How about the Wednesday Ardmore? Like the Asta Morris bottling, this Cadenhead (the oldest of the trio) was aged in US oak. As part of the very Small Batch range, the 16yo was aged in a pair of bourbon hogsheads. Likely refill hogheads...

The writing of whisky posts usually occurs late at night, as do the bottle photos, unless I want some actual natural light to show up. Daylight photos present challenges, especially if I want to include someone's toys in the background. That was deemed unacceptable here again.

Distillery: Ardmore
Region: Highlands (Eastern)
Independent Bottler: Cadenhead
Range: Small Batch
Age: 16 years old (21 August 1997 - December 2013)
Maturation: two bourbon hogsheads
Outturn: 552
Alcohol by Volume: 55.2%
(from a purchased sample)

The nose is slow to wake, starting up with just dirty stones and hay. It gets farmier with time, and picks up notes of black smoke and cruciferous veg. The palate comes pretty close to matching the nose. It is grassy and cruciferous. Stones, fabric, salt and heat. It's like licking soot-covered bricks. It finishes with pepper, salt, soil, soot and heat.

This might need water.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1¼ teaspoons of water per 30mL whisky
The nose is now all grass, cilantro, celery and notebook paper. Bricks, barley and grass lead the palate. It's slightly sweeter now, but also hotter, somehow. The finish hasn't changed one iota.

More water?

DILUTED TO ~37%abv, or 1 tablespoon of water per 30mL whisky
Grass, black pepper, rocks and lemon peel in the nose. The palate gets tangier, sweeter and earthier, but it's also getting sharp and bitter, and the finish mirrors this.

There are two types of austere whiskies. Those that provide subtle, rigid, direct, thoughtful experiences for palates weary of affectation. And those that are meh. The smell of this whisky suggests the former, the taste plants its ass firmly in the latter.

Yes, the whisky is absent vanilla and coconut and sawdust and grape juice and parades. And it will satisfy your desire to sip hot salty bricks. But Monday's Asta Morris Ardmore was a lean, calm, sturdy thing that delivered intellectual satisfaction while allowing for brief stirrings of indulgence. This Cadenhead Ardmore does not. 30mL was just enough.

Availability - still floating around Europe and Asia
Pricing - $80 - $125
Rating - 80

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