WHISKY REVIEWS, NEWS, HISTORY & FOLKLORE
Ardmore Distillery stands by the village of Kennethmont in the northeast of Scotland. It forms part of Beam Suntory‘s Scottish distillery portfolio, alongside Bowmore, Laphroaig, Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch. In the past, however, the distillery was often associated with William Teacher‘s Blended Scotch.
The distillery was built by William’s son, Adam, an interesting character with an adventurous past. Adam Teacher took over the business following the death of his father in 1876 but his life had been anything but dull in the preceding yeas. In 1871, he led an expedition to Uruguay in search of seabird guano.
It may not sound the most glamorous of missions but guano made an excellent fertiliser thanks to its high content of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium and fortunes were to be made in its trade. Teacher kept a journal of his travels…
21/11/71: Caught gulls which were skinned and soaked with arsenic to keep off the rats.
28/11/71: No guano at Port Desire… Picked men who can handle a rifle as the indians are very hostile.
31/12/71: Exchanged one dozen bottles of Teacher’s whisky for two skins of swan’s down, a lion’s skin, and some guacano robes…
The diary entries make for an intriguing glimpse into Teacher’s voyage but it should also be acknowledged that his attitudes, which were of their time, viewed foreign lands as a resource to be plundered for personal profit. In any case, the guano pursuit never quite came paid off for poor Adam. He took two ships to the South Atlantic but on the way back, the second got into difficulty and sank, taking 400 bags of priceless guano with it.
Within five years, Teacher was at the helm of his father’s whisky business and in 1897, he commissioned the building of Ardmore Distillery in order to secure fillings for the Teacher’s Highland Cream brand. Sadly, Adam passed away before the project could be completed but completed it was, and Ardmore still stands today, distilling the same light to medium peated Highland malt it always has.
Single Malts of Scotland is an Elixir Distillers brand, founded by Sukhinder Singh. The SMOS range features casks sourced from distilleries right across Scotland. This particular expression comes from Ardmore Distillery, though unusually, the spirit is unpeated, hence the differentiation in the name – unpeated Ardmore is identified as Ardlair.
Parcel No. 8 is made up of three casks, filled in 2010. The whisky was aged for 11 years and bottled at 48% ABV.
Smell: Big bourbon character and lots of lovely spices. Warm bread and bakeries. Vanilla. Pastries. Toffee. Spice racks. Almost comes across like a spiced rum at points. Touch of citrus. Apple turnovers. Cinnamon. Pepper. The little burning smell you get when you cut wood with a power saw.
Taste: More oaky spice. Toffee apples. Baked apples. Danish pastries. Citrus. Orange zest. Honey. Digestive biscuits. Under the influence of the bourbon cask is a creamy, malty spirit with some fresh fruits, especially apples and pears.
Thoughts: This is a good example of an indie bottler offering up a different take on a widely available spirit. There are some similarities to standard Ardmore expressions but it’s very much its own thing. There’s some nice weight on the palate, something I always appreciate, and you can’t accuse it of lacking flavour. More enjoyable after a splash of water was added – for me, it showed a better balance between spirit and oak. Aside from the curiosity of it being an unpeated Ardmore, it’s a solid dram in its own right. In truth, it’s a bottle I often look past when scanning for the evening’s dram but it always shows well when I remember to come back to it. A good, solid, bourbon-matured malt.
Price: £60 – and your money buys you an interesting whisky of a decent age, with plenty of cask influence and a decent bottling strength.
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For more on Ardmore visit https://www.ardmorewhisky.com/
For more on Single Malts of Scotland visit https://specialitybrands.com/range/single-malts-of-scotland/