Ardmore Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

This scotch has a bird on it…and its pretty good.

I could probably just have ended the review there and told you most of what you wanted to know.  Those of you with a pair of eagle eyes will have noticed that that this is a Highland single malt scotch…those with some even sharper eagle eyes (yes I’m using that phrase because its an eagle on the bottle) will notice the bottle also says ‘peated’.  Now, among the four scotch making regions in Scotland only one is famous for using peat to dry their barley (Islay), and it gives them a distinctly smokey flavor.  Highlands typically are light and fruity and sometimes a bit fruity.  For those new to the world of scotch, let me tell you, this is an almost unheard of combination.  So now that I’ve said my piece, why don’t we let the distillers say theirs:

What they say: “Full & rich, with unique Highland peat-smoked notes.

Founded in 1898 by one of Scotland’s most famous whisky families, Ardmore Single Malt has a long commitment to quality.  William Teacher was a believer in traditional distilling methods and insisted that Ardmore only used the aromatic smoke from natural, Highland peat fires to dry our malted barley.

Sadly, today, the high cost has meant that only one Highland Distillery still routinely fully ‘peats’ its standard malt.  Ardmore is rightly proud to be that distillery.  Our traditional methods extend to maturation.  Ardmore Traditional Cask is double matured, first in the more usual oak barrels, and then in much smaller ‘Quarter Casks’.  These were common in the 19th century, but are too costly for most distillers to use today.

Finally, bottled at 46% ABV, Ardmore is only barrier rather than chill filtered thus preserving the natural flavours.  These methods ensure we maintain the quality of our uniquely complex and rewarding malt whisky.”

Okay, I’m interested.  They do go on a bit, but if you’re the last of a dying breed you’d want to brag a bit too; and while this isn’t among the best scotches I’ve tasted, these people certainly got some things right. As an extra special treat, this week since we got some of the crew together the scores a little less one-sided!

Taste: 6.67 – “Comes on like a fairly standard highland, all light wood and fruit, but with a nice smokiness even in the beginning.”

Aftertaste: 7.0 – “Aftertaste is much more complex, still have the fruit and the wood, but peat and smoke start to mix in a strange and pleasant way”

Burn/Smooth: 4.75 – This is not a very smooth scotch, considering its a highland.  A bit harsh going down, but it does give a pleasant warm feeling at the end”

Aroma: 7.33 – Earth and Wood and Smoke, a bit harsh but not terribly unpleasant.

Manliness: 7.5 – They go on a bit on the outer container, but the bottle itself is simple straight forward and would look good in any liquor cabinet/bar.

Mixability: 6.5

On the Rocks: 6.5 – This is one of those scotches that was made to be put on rocks.  The one or two cubes of ice just remove every bit of unpleasantness from the burn and leave you with a woody, floral Highland flavor, followed closely with a gentle smokey aftertaste; however William and The Buffalo feels it takes too much away from the taste.

Value: 8.0 –  This scotch does give you more for your money than you’d expect especially at around $30

Google Shop Average: $33

Reviewer Scores:

Justice: 6.5

William: 8

Buffalo: 7

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Metric Score: 47.75/70 |+| Metric Average: 6.82 |+| Reviewer Average: 7.17

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Final Thoughts:

Despite the Google Shop Average, I picked this up for around $31, and after tasting a glass of this I know I got a steal.  (Editor’s Note: The prices vary wildly between 30’s and 40’s) I’m a huge fan of the smokier, peaty scotches and they will always be my favorites. That being said, in the warmer months I prefer to go with the lighter, more fruity and floral scotches native to the Highland and Speyside regions.  This scotch brings those two things together in an unexpected and pleasing way.  Through two cubes of ice in a glass and pour this on top on a cool summer night and you will not be disappointed.

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