You may never have heard of Ardmore distillery but surely you’ve heard of their parent company – Beam Suntory. Built in 1898, Ardmore distillery was established by Adam Teacher to ensure a good supply of whisky for Teachers blended whisky. Even today, most of Ardmore’s whisky is reserved for use in Teacher’s blends. The distillery was founded during one of the industry booms at the end of the 19th century and was quite modern for it’s time. A steam engine powered the entire distillery and it was built next to a railway. This was convenient for transporting supplies like barley and coal. A fun fact – Ardmore was one of the last distilleries to rely on coal powered fires to heat its stills and didn’t convert over to steam power until 2003. In 2005 Beam acquired Ardmore from Allied Domecq as part of a multi-billion dollar deal involving twenty wine and spirit companies. At the time Ardmore was already one of the largest distilleries in Scotland with eight stills, a 25 foot mash tun and 14 wooden wash backs. Shortly after acquisition Beam expanded Ardmore’s capacity from 3 million to an astounding 5.1 million liters per year. They’re known for producing a peated style whisky. In 2008 Ardmore Traditional, a single malt, was introduced to the American market. Other than that official bottling you would not be able to find additional expressions outside of independent bottlings. Today’s Ardmore is 14 years old and was bottled by Exclusive Malts at 54.3% ABV.
Nose: sweet red fruit, grapes, strawberry jam, lime, vanilla, light smoke
Mouth: peppery, full bodied, dark red cherries, citrus, grapefruit, red currant
Finish: spicy, lingering grapefruit citrus, underlying red fruit sweetness, chalky, prunes
Verdict: The dram leads off with sweet red fruits on the nose. There’s plenty of grapes and strawberry jam. Once the whisky has some more time oxidizing, the citrus notes dominate – mainly lime and grapefruit. There’s also a giant helping of vanilla as well. This is a full bodied whisky which bursts with dark red cherries and grapefruit citrus. It makes for a very bizarre palate which is not necessarily bad, just strange. I feel like the sour flavors and sweet red fruit flavors battle for supremacy in your mouth. A harmony between the two isn’t achieved, but it’s an exciting experience nonetheless. In the end the citrus flavor tends to dominate the palate and the result is a uniquely citrusy whisky. Additionally I detected some black pepper spice and red currant flavors as well. The finish starts out spicy with underlying red fruit sweetness, then the citrus takes over and lingers on for a while. At first I didn’t really enjoy this whisky, but the more I drink it the more I like it. It’s a unique whisky at the very least and I can see why Exclusive Malts bottled it.