...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Ardmore 24 year old 1996 Gordon & MacPhail, cask 3515

(Ardmore cluster homepage)

The youngest member of this cluster needed a sparring partner, and one presented itself. The oldest member of the cluster. Both were bottled by indie grandpa Gordon & MacPhail after the spirits had been encased in refill sherry hogsheads.

This 1996 is indeed darker than the 2003, though it was also distilled in direct coal fired stills. Early '90s Ardmore is consistently gorgeous, so I'm itching to find out how this '96 holds up.

Distillery: Ardmore
Region: Highlands (Eastern)
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Series: Connoisseurs Choice
Age: 24 years old (27 June 1996 - 29 March 2021)
Maturation: refill sherry hogshead
Cask #: 3515
Batch #: 21/077
Outturn: 219 bottles
Exclusive to: Spiritual Home, Scotland
Alcohol by Volume: 52.0%
(from a bottle split)


Dunnage notes frame orange peels, dried raspberries, dried blueberries, and dark chocolate in the nose. Menthol notes arrive later, followed by that snuffed beach bonfire note that I love so. The palate is very earthy, with a moderate smoke level. Key lime pie and orange creamsicles, dark chocolate and mocha in the back. Walnuts and mint in the middle. The "looooong" finish holds oranges up front, earth, walnuts and mint in the midground, smoke and industry in the background.

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

Oooh, it got even better. Ocean, toffee, mixed nuts, lots of lemon, and a pitch perfect mix of industry and farm in the nose. The palate "feels old school". It's boldly mineral, earthy and herbal, with Rainier cherries, walnuts and toffee in the background. The finish doesn't lose its length. It's mostly that wonderful mix of earth, stones and herbs, with a hint of those fresh cherries in the back.


My gawd. Normally, I'm a 100% bourbon oak Ardmore fellow, but this whisky is excellent. I can't think of a sherry cask Ardmore I've enjoyed more. Beach, farm, industry, soil, rocks, fruits, dunnage, yeah. If you think I'm crazy(er), please see this review from Monsieur Angus who compares it to 1960s Springbank. There seems to be an art to sherry cask maturation that has nearly been lost. Nearly.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 91 (maybe more)