Let there be rejoicing in the land: Binny’s is shipping again! Not to every state but, fortunately for me, the list includes a neighbouring state with a border town about an hour away in which a friend works. Accordingly, I organized a group split of eight of their current handpicked single malt casks. (You can see which the others are in this month’s “Coming Soon…” post.) Here first is this Ardmore which is one of the casks I was most interested in. The reason for this is that there isn’t a whole lot of Ardmore about in the US—minimal official releases and very few indies—and even fewer are from single sherry casks. As such this was an unusual proposition, hard to resist (and the risk underwritten by the fact that Binny’s generally picks very good casks). Let’s see if this story of hope has a good ending.
Ardmore 16, 1998 (55.5%; G&M for Binny’s; refill sherry hogshead 5587; from a bottle split)
Nose: Rubbery peat with some rotting, organic notes mixed in; some plastic too. Softens up with some air with first some creamy notes and then some fruit beginning to emerge (lime, apple, maybe a bit of peach). The rubbery/plastic notes dissipate with time leaving a mild, minerally smoky note. Water makes it mellower and creamier and then sweeter (the apple again).
Palate: Sweet to start with the minerally smoke coming rushing in behind. That plasticky note (almost grainy) follows, transitioning into bitter lime zest as it goes. Thick, oily texture. With some air the creamy note from the nose begins to appear, but there’s not a whole lot of it. With time and air it’s less bitter. Okay, let’s see what water does. Water makes it less bitter and more acidic; some white pepper too now.
Finish: Long. The mix of the bitter lime zest and the minerally smoke are dominant here but the sweetness is still palpable on the edges. Gets just a tiny bit soapy at the very end. Much brighter with water and more mentholated.
Comments: A very old-school peated Highland profile. The sherry character is quite muted, most notable in the dark colour of the whisky. Not sure it’s a great deal at the current price ($120) but it’s not a profile that’s easily found these days. If you not familiar with the style, probably best to try before you buy (if possible).
Rating: 86 points.